Heroin use increasing among suburban teens

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ohio (WDTN) – It is no secret that drugs flow through our streets, especially with I-70 and I-75 so conveniently located.

Health officials say if you think it’s just a Dayton problem, you’re wrong.

“Everybody is being impacted by the heroin epidemic, we see this in our communities, in families, in individuals” explains Andrea Hoff, Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADAMHS) community engagement director.

ADAMHS executive director Helen Jones-Kelley says one of the scariest things about the heroin epidemic is its being put in the hands of teenagers.

“We’re seeing more and more high school youth who are using heroin because its so cheap and so accessible, people are showing up on school grounds and introducing them to it at a low cost” says Helen Jones-Kelley, ADAMHS executive director.

ADAMHS sees heroin victims from places like Miamisburg, Centerville and West Carrollton. Across the country from 1999 to 2009 the number of heroin related deaths among teens doubled from 1999 to 2009.

“Now we’ve got kids who are raiding their parents bank accounts, selling precious items just to be able to feed their own habit” says Jones-Kelley.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office reports most accidental overdose deaths are between the ages of 26-45. ADAMHS says that’s not the case anymore, suburban teens are on the rise having access to money and transportation.

“So many suburban parents are unaware this is a problem, because there’s so much information about the core city, there’s just as much going on in our suburban areas” says Jones-Kelley.

While Montgomery County numbers do show a decrease in overdoses with the help of NARCAN, a medicine that revives heroin victims who otherwise may have died. There still isn’t a decrease in heroin usage and no community is exempt.

“There are no unlikely communities in Ohio, there are some that may be thought of as less likely just cause of the resources that exist there, but there are higher likelihoods of young people using heroin in those neighborhoods, but they’re masking it and thankfully they’re not dying…yet” says Jones-Kelley.

ADAMHS health officials say historically drug epidemics last around a decade, if history repeats itself the Miami Valley will be combating the heroin epidemic until 2017.

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