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Heroin Addiction is on the Rise in Ohio, Health Officials Say

COLUMBUS (Rob Wells/Kate Liebers) -- Heroin is not just a problem in Hollywood. The number of people being treated for heroin addiction in Ohio has reportedly skyrocketed.

More than 600 Ohio families lost a loved one to heroin addiction in 2013, according to the Maryhaven treatment center in Columbus. Health officials said that figure has been on the upswing for the last two years.

"It's so addictive," said a 25-year-old addict in Columbus who wished to remain anonymous. "It traps you like an incarceration. You just can't get out."

He said the drug has impacted more lives than his own.

"It's ruined my life. It's affected my family. I've ended up stealing from family members," he said.

Paul Coleman, president of Maryhaven, said the drug is dangerously easy to obtain.

"We've had patients here tell us it's easier to get heroin than a six pack of beer," Coleman said.

He said that in 2002, nearly 40 percent of Maryhaven's patients were seeking treatment for opiate addiction -- primarily heroin. Now, he said that number is close to 80 percent.

"Let me tell you that there is a heroin problem in Franklin County, there is a heroin problem in Delaware County, in Morrow and Union," Coleman said. "It's all over."

While treatment is available, heroin is still dangerous in that each dose is so unpredictable, Coleman said.

"Anyone who purchases heroin can't be sure of the priority or strength of the product," he said. "It's a crap shoot. It's a crap shoot with your life."

Coleman said Maryhaven will be opening a new facility in Bucyrus to keep up with the growing problem.

Meanwhile, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office recently launched a new unit to combat the heroin problem. Because it is cheap to make and easy to transport, the unit will focus on the heroin trade, DeWine said.

National studies show that nearly half a million people across the county are addicted to heroin.

A survey by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services revealed that 669,000 people had used heroin in 2012 and 467,000 were "heroin dependent." 

If you need help overcoming an addiction, or if you know of someone who does, call Maryhaven's treatment center at 614-445-7808. Callers can remain anonymous.
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