opioid epidemic

Sen. Sherrod Brown is introducing a bill tomorrow to provide funding for devices that detect fentanyl.

The POWER Act would provide funds for portable chemical screening devices, such as those being used by Customs and Border Protection agents. Sen. Brown says they’re needed because local law enforcement officers need to be able to test drugs in the field to ensure they’re not in danger of an accidental overdose, such as the one that happened last year to an officer in Columbiana County.

It was a scheduling mishap that led Kourtnaye Sturgeon to help save someone’s life. About four months ago, Sturgeon drove to downtown Indianapolis for a meeting. She was a week early.

“I wasn’t supposed to be there,” she said.


Editor's note: Since this story was first posted, we have received word that Destini Johnson is regaining consciousness and is out of intensive care.

Last August, Destini Johnson practically danced out of jail, after landing there for two months on drug charges. She bubbled with excitement about her new freedom and returning home to her parents in Muncie, Ind. She even talked about plans to find a job.

Ohio’s foster care system has seen a significant increase in the number of children in protective custody.  It’s one of the ripple effects of the opioid crisis.  Last year, for example, a one-year-old was revived with Narcan after overdosing on an unknown opioid in Akron.  The child and the child's 9-year-old sibling were removed from the home and placed in the custody of Summit County Children's Services.  

The local governments suing drug companies over the opioid crisis say addiction has cost them—not just in damage to people’s lives, but in dollars and cents.

It’s hard to come up with a price tag, though. Numerous different agencies handle prevention, treatment and response to overdoses. The federal government, state of Ohio, foundations and local communities are all paying for the epidemic.

While the crisis hasn’t broken local budgets in the Mahoning Valley, it has burdened them, agency officials say.

Stopping Opioids At The County Jail

When you picture a person suffering from opioid addiction, who comes to mind? Do you picture a stranger, a friend or relative? Or how about ... a coworker?

If that hasn't crossed your mind, consider this: according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 50 percent of those who reported abusing pain medication also said they have a full-time job, while an additional 15 percent said they work part-time. That reality has some employers rethinking their approach to drug use in their workforce.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown has introduced legislation to address what he says is a growing problem for employers and for people getting treatment for addiction.

The U.S. Surgeon General has issued an advisory, encouraging more Americans to carry the overdose reversing drug naloxone.

It comes in the form of an injection or a nasal spray, known as Narcan, and is regularly carried by firefighters, EMTs and police officers, but the antidote is also becoming more and more common in Ohio schools.

In Lisbon, Education is More Than English and Math

Students at David Anderson Junior and Senior High School in Lisbon, Ohio, file into the auditorium on a Thursday morning.

North Ridgeville resident Adrian Frederick said he’s had horrible leg pain for years, caused by a surgery he had involving cancer. The pain is constant, and gets worse at night.

“I’m just willing to try anything at this point,” Frederick said. “I’m just sick of being in pain all the time.”

John Minchillo / Associated Press

This story comes from The Ohio Center For Investigative Journalism. Find out about local events focused on solutions to the opioid crisis below.

The most dangerous time for Cincinnati heroin addicts is not a typical party time: 3 p.m. on Wednesdays. For Columbus, it’s 6 p.m. on Thursdays, and in Akron, 7 p.m. on Tuesdays. 

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