SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) – With new recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration Thursday for tighter controls on commonly prescribed prescription painkillers, people in Scioto County are joining forces with law enforcement to combat not only pills, but other drugs that some are turning to when pills are no longer available.
Scioto County is among a number of counties in the Tri-State region that gets federal grant money through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, allowing police to seize drugs, guns and cash in addition to what they might normally take. But police say just limiting the supply of pills doesn’t alleviate the problem of drug abuse.
“If you're still craving, you're going to look for the next open door. You're going to look for the next avenue to get your high,” Chief Robert Ware of the Portsmouth Police Department said. “It's not something we change overnight. […] We were years in the making, it's going to be years in the solutions to it."
Chief Ware noted that from approximately March to September 2013, his officers seized more than 200 grams of heroin and more than 30 grams of cocaine using that federal grant money. Still, he said arresting people and limiting drugs is simply treating the symptoms of addiction, rather than addressing the causes.
“You get past the symptoms. You get to the heart of the problem. And one of the hearts of the problem for this whole region is economics,” Ware said.
Jo Anna Krohn lost her son Wes, 18, when he accidentally shot himself while taking pain pills in 2008. She is now working to fix the problem of drug abuse in a constructive way by helping support families and communities dealing with addiction.
“My son can go onto the street and he can purchase any type of drug he wants, just about anywhere here,” Krohn said of the anger that led her to form the organization SOLACE. “I'm going to put his face out there. There's no shame that he died from a drug-related death.”
Ware said he and law enforcement in Scioto County are going after drug trafficking networks from Detroit, Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus to try and stem the tide of drugs.
He and other local and state leaders said Wednesday night at a panel that a possible solution to deal with drug abuse could be a nationwide prescription monitoring program. The program, they said, would ensure doctors weren’t overprescribing painkillers to patients.
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