As Ohio Is Rated #2 Drug Overdose Death State In the Nation, Experts Are Not Surprised

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Ohio now rates second in the nation in drug overdose deaths.

The CDC says heroin and painkillers took 2,774 lives in Ohio last year.

That’s nearly one death every three hours.

And people who deal with this epidemic daily are not surprised.

Just two days before Christmas, a man in Bellaire almost added to those numbers.

Police say he was 38 years old, from Sistersville, a former corrections officer driving a Mercedes.

And he was discovered in Bellaire in a fast food parking lot, unconscious behind the wheel with a needle still lying on his chest.

“The vehicle was still running,” said Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk. “The vehicle was in reverse.”

First responders put the gear shift in park and they administered Narcan to the man.

He recovered.

And his car never drifted out of its parking spot.

“It could have been very deadly,” said Chief Kovalyk.

“I can just say, when you read the obituaries and there’s somebody under the age of 40, hmm, it could be,” noted Rebecca Kinkade, clinical supervisor for Crossroads Counseling. “You know, I’m not saying it always is, but it is a lot of the time.”

Kinkade says there is no typical profile of a drug addict.

And the fact that Ohio is ranked second in the nation in overdose deaths comes as no surprise to her.

“Ten years ago, heroin was maybe five to ten percent of our clientele,” she said. “And now it’s about 90 percent.  I mean it’s a big jump.”

“It’s getting to be an everyday thing,” said Chief Kovalyk. “Of course we’re asking everyone who sees any activity to make sure they report it to their law enforcement agency.”

They say addictions are tenacious and detox beds are scarce.

“Really, the best way is just to never start,” noted Kinkade. “You know, just to educate, to get the information out there.”

The man who overdosed has since spoken with the police chief.

“I think he may realize that, you know, there’s not too many more times that this can happen that will have a good ending,” Kovalyk said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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