The rising price of the heroin epidemic

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - The heroin and opioid epidemic in the Miami Valley is costing more than lives.

A 2 NEWS Investigation finds millions of your local tax dollars going to fight it every year.

In the last two years the amount of money our community spends on fighting heroin and opioids has gone up more than $3 million and more people continue to die from accidental drug overdoses. Those at the forefront of this fight say its a problem all of us are paying for so it's time to step up and do something about it.

The war on drugs in our community is expensive.

"This epidemic is impacting every aspect of our lives here in Montgomery County. It's effecting the job force, it's effecting the health and well-being of our neighbors and our families and we need to get this epidemic under control," said Ann Stevens with Montgomery County's Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services.

Heroin and opioid addictions are costing us emotionally and physically, but also financially.

"The heroin epidemic is taking a third of the ADAMHS budget and it's serving only 8% of our clients so we have many more things we can be spending our money on," said Stevens.

The amount of money being spent on the problem is going up but it's not getting better.

"But when we look at the accidental drug overdoses and how they affect folks' lives, we're losing that battle as far as I'm concerned," said Director of the Montgomery County's Coroner's office, Ken Betz.

Departments like the Montgomery County Coroner's office are strapped. Betz tells 2 NEWS Investigates they are constantly at capacity and are spending more money than ever before on outside testing because of the concoctions of new drugs people are taking and dying from.

"It takes a lot of time and effort and instrumentation in the laboratory to identify the substances that contributed to the death of the individual," said Betz.

With no new money coming in from the county, they are exhausting every resource and staff member they have to take care of the skyrocketing amount of overdose deaths they see every week.

"Our staff is just plain burned out. They are tired," said Betz.

ADAMHS or the Alcohol, Drug Addiction Mental Health Services of Montgomery County is also spending a lot of time and effort on the problem. Stevens said they are spending funds on educating and treating those impacted by heroin and opioids but they can't devote their entire budget to the issue.

"We still have to help the mentally ill. There are other people that have addiction problems that don't involve heroin and we still have to have resources to serve them also," said Stevens.

2 NEWS Investigates obtained numbers from departments across the Miami Valley:

---The coroner's office spends approximately $3,500 dollars for the average overdose death they process. They're on track to spend about $1.3 million dollars this year.

--ADAMHS is spending money on treatment centers, drug overdose reversal kits, advertising and education. Their total price tag is about $7.2 million dollars.

--The Montgomery County Public Health Department has everything from prevention services to a poison death review which collects data that tells community leaders how bad the problem really is. This department is spending an estimated $1.5 million.

--And finally law enforcement departments across the community are also spending resources on overtime, advertising, and special training. The Montgomery County Sheriff's office is spending more than $700,000 dollars this year.

That's a total of more than $10 million dollars. A price tag those fighting this problem say is worth it.

"Our tax dollars are being used diligently to get this epidemic under control and the only other alternative that if we didn't have these tax dollars to help with the epidemic a lot more people would be dying," said Stevens.

But these funds only go so far. Stevens said this war is going to take more than money.

"We all live in this community and we all bear some responsibility of what happens here," said Stevens.

So what can you do help?

Stevens said it's all about public awareness. She said people should be talking to their kids about the drugs.
She also said it's changing the mentality in our country that you need to take a drug for pain management. She's urging people to look for alternative pain medicines other than opioids, since that is where a lot of addictions start.

Where to go for help

Mental Health & Addiction

-DayMont Behavioral Health Care


-Eastway Behavioral Healthcare


-Miami Valley Hospital


Samaritan Behavioral Health, Inc.


-South Community, Inc.




Addiction Treatment

Center for Alcoholism & Drug Addiction Servies (CADAS)


Nova Behavioral Health


Project C.U.R.E 


Women's Recovery Center





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