Hamilton County coalition seeking funds to fight heroin epidemic

Hamilton County coalition seeking funds to fight heroin epidemic (WKRC)

HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - 70 was the number of overdoses in Hamilton County over the weekend of March 17, most of them due to heroin.

Two years ago, there were about 20 per week. Members of an anti-heroin coalition know what can make a difference, but are struggling to get it done.

The co-chairman of the Heroin Coalition wants addicts treated like the mentally ill; danger to themselves or others.

"If the surgeon general says it's a disease, why aren't we treating it as such," asked Chief Tom Synam of Newtown, Heroin Coalition co-chair. "We wouldn't be Narcaning we'd be intervening; take them all to get long term care, only way to solve this."

Kentucky seems to be way ahead of Ohio when it comes to programs that work. "Casey's Law" allows for involuntary treatment; loved ones can petition the court. Ohio leads the country in overdoses, yet Ohio is not leading the country in solutions.

In Kenton County, Kentucky there are heroin recovery jail pods. Louisville's had them for years. Addicts choose to go through rehab behind bars. It was something the Hamilton County Jail's been trying to do, but can't get funding from the county. Right now it's run by volunteers.

Newly elected County Commissioner Denise Driehaus chairs the Heroin Coalition. She's going to Columbus Tuesday, March 21, to testify before the finance committee for state money to help pay for programs such as the jail recovery pod. Until programs were funded in Ohio, first responders were bracing themselves for more overdose weekends.

CLICK HERE to find all of Local 12's stories about the heroin epidemic.

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