Opioids

America's First Heroin Epidemic A Century Ago

Nov 7, 2017
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The year was 1908 and an Ohio doctor, appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as the nation's first Opium Commissioner, warned that Americans "have become the greatest drug fiends in the world." If the sentiment seems all too familiar in the grips of our current opioid epidemic, you'll find there are many similarities, and some shocking differences, between current times and a drug crisis that dates all the way back to the Civil War.

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Hamilton County's leaders aren't counting on help from the state to build an opioid diversion center. Commissioners passed a motion directing the administration to look into building such a facility.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The maker of Narcan is making a research grant to Hamilton County that will provide nearly $2 million worth of the overdose antidote to combat the local heroin crisis.

Ohio Society of Interventional Pain Physicians

Medical professionals who help people dealing with chronic pain are gathering in Cincinnati this weekend. It will be the first meeting of the Ohio Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

Jim Nolan/WVXU

A former Cincinnati mayor makes an endorsement in the upcoming mayoral race and city council candidates are raising money for their campaigns. Communities continue to seek solutions to the opioid crisis, Northern Kentucky University settles a sexual assault case and a dispute erupts over the removal of a local Confederate memorial. And it has been a tumultuous week for Macy's.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Boone and Kenton counties plan to sue three of the country's largest wholesale drug distributors. Fiscal courts in both counties say AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation are a big reason for Northern Kentucky's opioid epidemic.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

The city of Cincinnati wants three major drug distributors to pay for the opioid epidemic.

The city is the latest to file suit against AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson Corporation. A federal lawsuit alleges the companies let an epidemic run unchecked. A release from the city says those three companies account for 80 percent of the market for prescription opioids.

SPR Therapeutics

More than a year ago, 80-year old Helen Douglass described her shoulder and forearm pain following a stroke as nine out of 10. Last summer the Cleveland-area resident participated in a clinical trial for SPRINT, a small wearable stimulator patch and has no pain now.

Her story is one of many SPR Therapeutics points to and the Ohio company is now marketing the FDA approved portable device that delivers neuro-stimulation to the nerve causing the pain. CEO Maria Bennett says SPRINT is somewhere between TENS and a fully implantable stimulation device.

Some medical scientists believe the patch could become a substitute for opioid abuse. 

Local organization Impact Changes Society is teaming with documentarian Jerry Buck to get his latest film, The War We Ignore, about the growing opioid epidemic, into schools this fall. 

This Week's News In The Tri-State

Aug 4, 2017
Jim Nolan/WVXU

Each Friday on Cincinnati Edition we review and discuss the people, stories and events that are affecting the Tri-state.

Clermont County plans to sue pharmaceutical companies over the opioid crisis. Commissioners, the county prosecutor, and court of common pleas have hired a West Virginia law firm to go after distributors.


Jim Nolan/WVXU

The continuing opioid crisis in our region moved Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to file a lawsuit against five major prescription drug manufacturers Wednesday.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Ohio's Attorney General issued a warning late last week about a new mixture of opiates causing overdoses. Mike DeWine says "gray death" is a mixture of fentanyl, heroin, and the synthetic drug U47700.

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Local emergency medical services (EMS) have been taxed by the continuing opioid crisis in our region. During one six-day period last summer in Cincinnati, there were 174 overdoses. 

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Daily stories of overdoses, deaths and efforts to reduce opioid addiction have made us all too aware of the continuing drug crisis taking place in Greater Cincinnati. 

East Tennessee Children's Hospital / YouTube

The number of babies born drug dependent continues to increase. In Greater Cincinnati and elsewhere neonatologists are looking for answers.

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Cincinnati Union Bethel's Off The Streets program has been helping women involved in prostitution and sex trafficking for a decade. 

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In just one week this summer, there were more than 175 heroin overdoses reported in the Cincinnati area. 

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As the heroin crisis continues across the country and here in Greater Cincinnati, news and media organizations have been trying to explore and expose the many aspects of drug abuse, the individuals fighting addiction and community response to the epidemic.

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In the past three weeks, there have been nearly 300 overdoses and three deaths from heroin in the Cincinnati area. These are unprecedented numbers and the situation is nothing short of a public health emergency. 

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It’'s not easy dealing with chronic pain, and medical professionals often resort to prescribing their patients opiates, which can become addictive and lead to more problems. 

More and more companies are requiring job applicants to take a pre-employment drug test — and more and more individuals are failing, according to a New York Times article published this May. This is due in part to an increase in the use of drugs such as marijuana, which is becoming legal in more areas of the country, or opioid drugs, which have swept the nation as an epidemic.

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Named one of the best books of 2015, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’'s Opiate Epidemic by journalist Sam Quinones, provides a detailed look at the opiate epidemic devastating much of America today. Mr. Quinones tracks the origins of the heroin crisis, the dramatic growth of opiate abuse and its tragic devastation.

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The heroin epidemic is taking a terrible toll on families and straining health providers, social service agencies and the legal system, nationally and here in Greater Cincinnati. People and organizations on both sides of the Ohio river have been working together to combat the dramatic rise in drug abuse and provide addicts and their families with the care and help they need.

Ann Thompson / WVXU

As opioid abuse skyrockets out of control, University of Cincinnati Health researchers are trying to zero in on fresh alternatives for the estimated 100 million people who suffer from chronic pain.

Principal investigator of a $1.95 million federal grant, Jun-Ming Zhang, MD, is studying the roles of the  nervous system and immune system in preclinical models of back and neuropathic pain.

provided / Hamilton County Sheriff's Department

Ohio-based grocery chain Kroger will make an opioid overdose antidote available without a prescription in its pharmacies across Ohio and northern Kentucky.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Butler County has opened a new front in the battle against heroin addiction. 

The motherhood and maternity addiction services program will focus on perinatal care for women and children.

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