On Tuesday, Scioto County Coroner Dr. Darren Adams talked about coroner’s offices around the state hiring investigators, and said there is no budget for that position out of the Scioto County office.
Adams says he has a good working relationship with investigators from the various law enforcement departments in the region, but said he could possibly see the time coming in which there would be a need for someone to fill that job locally.
“As things get worse with the drug problem and we’re seeing more and more that we’re investigating we’re probably going to have to look that direction,” Adams told the Daily Times.
Adams said he does not have the final figures for direct and indirect drug related deaths for 2015.
“We’re still waiting for the year end results,” Adams said. “It runs 6, 8, 12 weeks behind because of toxicology. We have not gotten the full numbers yet but that should be out next week.”
Adams said nearly all autopsies on Scioto County deaths are handled by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office so local authorities have to wait for the reports to come back.
“I’ll try to get that plotted on a map so we can see where in the county this is happening to see if there are particular hot spots we need to concentrate on,” Adams said.
Adams said he does know that there has been an increase in heroin laced with Fentanyl locally. He said he recently attended a meeting along with other coroners, firefighters and other first responders with Attorney General Mike DeWine in Columbus.
“They are going to try to look at these overdose deaths and if they can link them back to particular drug dealers or suppliers they are going to start prosecuting them,” Adams said.
On one weekend in 2015 in the city of Portsmouth some 11 people were victims of overdose because of a strain of heroin that was more powerful than usual.
“Occasionally a new drug cartel will come in and they will have either a better product or different product and it’s higher quality than before and if they do the same milligrams they have been shooting up before they can’t handle it,” Adams said. “It has either been laced with something or it’s more pure because they are trying to entice them to use them.”
Adams said as many studies as have been done on the subject of addiction, he doesn’t believe they have ever gotten to the root cause.
“We were ground zero for the pill mills (pain clinics) and we shut the pill mills down,” Adams said. “So now you’ve got to avoid people getting them legally from the medical officials. Now they’re on the street. They’re going through withdrawal and they’re finding heroin to just get them through.”
He said there are medically-assisted programs that work well but there is not enough treatment for everyone who is addicted.
Despite political statements from the White House, U.S. Senator Rob Portman says the experts in the Obama administration who deal with drug policy every day strongly support his Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (S. 524), bipartisan legislation designed to ensure that federal resources are devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that work.
“As I travel across the state of Ohio, I’ve seen the devastating impact this epidemic has had on families and local communities. Sadly, babies are too often the victims of this addiction,” Portman said. “Recently, my wife Jane and I visited Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. We toured the hospital’s neonatal intensive-care unit and met with medical experts and addiction specialists who are treating babies born addicted to the drugs their mothers abused during pregnancy. I’ve been on similar, heartbreaking visits at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and St. Rita’s Special Care Nursery in Lima, Ohio.”
Adams said, whatever the treatment method, they have to get it right.
“We’ve got to make sure we do the treatment right. There’s abuse on that side of things as well,” Adams said. “You’ve got to make sure they get the counseling and make sure they get the right medication to try to get them weaned off of this and back into society.”
Adams said some communities are in denial about the addiction problems within their own communities.
“It’s there. It’s everywhere,” Adams said. “These drug dealers have a better supply system than Walmart. When you can call up and in ten minutes they can deliver to your door, that’s a pretty good supply chain.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.