Heroin problems increase in Mercer County

Heroin epidemic in the Miami Valley (WDTN Photo)

CELINA, Ohio (WDTN) – Ten dollars is all it takes get started on heroin in Mercer County.

It is a problem the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office is trying to stop as more people are getting arrested for heroin.

“I’ve been clean two years, five months, and seven days,” said Balinda Fonner, a recovering heroin addict.

Fonner joined others at Celina High School Monday night who have been impacted by heroin.

The program was part of nationwide initiative called “Parents360 Rx” to raise awareness about drug related problems.

Fonner, speaking to a group of parents and students, said she wants to share her story to help others in the community.

It was during her time in high school that Fonner said she began experimenting with drugs. It would soon lead into a heroin addiction.

The addiction came at the cost of her friends, family, and almost her daughter.

“I found out I was pregnant,” said Fonner. “I came very close to losing that child.”

It is a problem the Mercer County Sheriff said he is seeing far too often.

“They’re going from prescription painkillers to the heroin when their doctor cuts off their prescription or just because they can’t afford their prescription and heroin is cheap,” said Sheriff Jeff Grey.

In 2009, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office made four arrests involving heroin. In 2013, that number skyrocketed to 107.

Sheriff Grey is hoping education, enforcement, and treatment will be what it takes to end the heroin problem.

“It’s going to take a little bit of everything,” said Grey. “We’re reaching out trying to figure out what the best combination is.”

Two weeks ago, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office began a heroin unit to help people with heroin addiction get treatment. A judge with the common pleas court has also began a treatment program through the court system.

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