Thursday, 31 August 2017 07:45

More Deaths From Opioids

The latest numbers from the state are out on opioid overdose deaths in Ohio -- and increase of more than one thousand dead by drug OD from 2015 to 2016. Breaking it down by county, Summit County had 25.5 deaths per 100,000 population to lead the greater Akron area, followed by Portage, Stark, Wayne and Medina County in the teens. The worst in our ara was Trumbull County with 34.2 deaths per 100,000. The deadliest county in Ohio is Montgomery -- the Dayton area -- with 42.5 deaths per hundred thousand.

The deadliest drug mixture comes from Fentanyl-related overdoses, nearly two thirds of the total.

READ the entire report at the .pdf link at the bottom

Local Counties

Stark 16.0 per hundred thousand population

Wayne 15.0

Portage 17.1

Medina 13.8

Cuyahoga/Cleveland 23.4

Mahoning/Youngstown 25.1

Trumbull/Warren 34.2

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(Ohio Department of Health) Ohio's opioid epidemic continued to evolve in 2016 with stronger drugs driving an increase in unintentional overdose deaths, according to a new report released by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The report shows a sharp rise in overdose deaths involving the opioid fentanyl, the emergence of more deadly fentanyl-related drugs like carfentanil, and indications that cocaine is now being used with fentanyl and other opiates. The report also contains some promising news – the fewest prescription opioid overdose deaths since 2009.

"The continued increase in opioid-related deaths reaffirms that we still have much work to do, but Ohio is seeing important progress in reducing the number of prescription opioids available for abuse and prescription-related overdose deaths," said Dr. Mark Hurst, medical director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and interim medical director of ODH. "This progress is significant because prescription opioid abuse is frequently a gateway to heroin and fentanyl use later on."

Overdose deaths increased from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year, and fentanyl and related drugs were involved in 58.2 percent of them. By comparison, fentanyl was involved in 37.9 percent of overdose deaths in 2015, 19.9 percent in 2014, 4 percent in 2013 and 3.9 percent 2012. Illegally produced fentanyl can be hundreds of times stronger than heroin, and carfentanil and other related drugs can be even stronger.

With the emergence of carfentanil in 2016, the fentanyl-related drug was involved in 340 overdose deaths, most of them during the second half of the year. The number of cocaine-related overdose deaths increased from 685 in 2015 to 1,109 in 2016 – a 61.9 percent increase. Of cocaine-related overdose deaths, 80.2 percent also involved an opiate, and 55.8 percent involved fentanyl and related opiates in particular.

Of all unintentional drug overdose deaths, the percentage of prescription opioid-related deaths declined for the fifth straight year in 2016, and the number of such deaths declined 15.4 percent from 667 in 2015 to 564 in 2016, the fewest since 2009. Opioid prescribing in Ohio declined for a fourth consecutive year in 2016, according to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Between 2012 and 2016, the total number of opioids dispensed to Ohio patients decreased by 162 million doses or 20.4 percent. There was a 78.2 percent decrease in the number of people engaged in the practice of "doctor shopping" for controlled substances since 2012.

This progress corresponds with efforts to reduce the prescription opioid supply available for diversion and abuse by stepping up law enforcement efforts, working with medical professionals to establish opioid prescribing guidelines, and empowering prescribers and pharmacists to prevent opioid abuse using Ohio's prescription drug monitoring system, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS).

Ohio is investing about $1 billion each year to help communities battle the scourge of drug abuse and addiction at the local level, including significant funding to help address treatment, prevention and law enforcement.

those resources include:

-Helping communities purchase the life-saving drug naloxone
- Investing in specialized drug courts that link offenders with treatment
- Providing safe, stable housing to help drug-addicted Ohioans recover
- Increasing funding for individuals needing addiction and behavioral health treatment
- Enforcing Ohio's drug laws to prevent the illegal distribution of powerful synthetic opioids

Ohio's new two-year state budget includes an additional $170 million to support local and state efforts to combat opioid abuse and overdose deaths. At this year's State of the State Address, Gov. John R. Kasich asked the Third Frontier Commission to provide up to $20 million to help bring new scientific breakthroughs to the battle against drug abuse and addiction. The Third Frontier Commission approved this request in May and will announce the first funded projects in December.

The state also is surging resources into communities hardest hit by Ohio's opioid epidemic.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will receive up to $26 million a year during the next two years through the federal 21st Century Cures Act to help fight Ohio's opioid epidemic at the state and local levels. The funding will help support medication-assisted treatment; prevention; screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment; recovery supports; workforce devel­opment; and addressing secondary trauma among first responders (EMS personnel, firefighters, law enforcement, etc.).

ODH has been awarded a four-year federal grant totaling $6.6 million to combat prescription drug overdoses. ODH has awarded grants to 14 high-burden counties to implement comprehensive prescription drug overdose prevention programs focusing on coalition development, healthcare prescriber education and healthcare system changes for safer opioid prescribing practices, and increasing access to the opiate overdose reversal drug naloxone.

In addition, members of the Governor's Opiate Action Team have met with local leaders in 20 Ohio communities that have the highest burden of drug overdoses to ensure that communities are mounting a coordinated response and taking advantage of the tools and resources that the state has made available. Promising local practices were identified during these visits and have helped inform the development of an updated Action Guide to Address Opioid Abuse as a resource for Ohio's communities.

Published in Local

On Monday, the Akron Public School Board voted 5-1 to allow school resource officers to carry Narcan on high school and middle properties in the district. 

Narcan, or Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that is applied to an overdose victim by a nasal spray. The resource officers who work on Akron school campuses are employees of the Akron Police Department and have been trained on how to use the drug. Bravo says that after the policy is officially passed, the School Board will decide who else on staff will be trained on how to use naloxone and where it will be stored on school campuses. He's hoping that will be decided by the Fall, and the start of the 2017-2018 school year. 

Akron School Board President Patrick Bravo told the Ray Horner Morning Show, "The opioid epidemic is here; and I think you can either choose to arm yourself for a possible emergency at some point, or you can choose not to, and we chose to do something proactive." 

As for the cost of the Naloxone program at Akron Public Schools, Bravo says the vendor they are looking at provides the doses free for the high schools for the first year. At $100 per dose, and two doses per resource officer, Bravo says the cost for the remaining middle schools will be around $2,000. He says the board will come up with those funds for the Naloxone doses. 

The latest numbers from the Summit County Medical Examiner's office show an average of 9 opioid or opiate overdoses a day in Summit County. "We're here to look out for the safety and security of not only the 21,000 students that enter our buildings every day, but the 4,000 full time and part time staff and all of the adult visitors and children," Bravo added. 

 

Published in Local

It hasn't exactly been a secret that Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is planning a run for Governor. But she officially launched her campaign Friday in a City Club Forum in Cleveland. She joined Jasen on Monday to talk about the campaign and her ideas on the opiate crisis, jobs, and education.

Published in Jasen Sokol

Greg McNeil from Cover2 Resources hopes test strips that detect fentanyl in heroin will soon be as available as Narcan and needle exchanges.

Inspired by a similar program in New York City, McNeil is working with the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County to implement a pilot program in the Cleveland area. The strips, which cost around $1, only detect fentanyl but a similar strip to detect carfentanil is in the works.

McNeil joined Jasen to talk about the program.

Published in Jasen Sokol

A bill passed by the Ohio Senate this week would lead to harsher sentences for fentanyl traffickers.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by State Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), lowers the amount of fentanyl for which someone can be charged with felony trafficking. Under current law, LaRose says a trafficker has to have enough heroin to kill 10,000 people before they can be charged with a felony. Fentanyl is frequently being mixed with heroin, creating a much more deadly concoction than straight heroin. The bill now moves to the General Assembly.

LaRose joined Jasen to talk about the bill and his proposal for congressional redistricting reform.

Published in Jasen Sokol
Wednesday, 15 February 2017 11:21

Three Suspected Heroin Dealers Arrested

Stark County Sheriff's Office and U.S. Marshalls worked together on their latest bust of three suspected heroin dealers in the Akron area.

Two Massillon residents, Damon Marcus Slocum and Tiffany Angel Kegley are charged with involuntary manslaughter for providing the heroin that Sean Latham killed Sean Latham last May. Vernall Floyd Robinson was arrested for selling the heroin that resulted in a non-lethal overdose of another area resident. He's charged with Corrupting Another with Drugs, a second degree felony. 

Read the full press release from the Stark County Sheriff's Office below: 

The Stark County Sheriff’s Office is proud to announce several arrests as part of the ongoing effort to
combat the local heroin epidemic.

Sheriff George T. Maier commends the hard work and dedication of the employees of the sheriff’s office as well as
numerous partners in the effort to keep communities safe.

Sheriff Maier: “The indictments Tuesday are a direct result of our deputies and investigators working collaboratively
to combat the heroin epidemic here in Stark County.”

On February 14, 2017, Stark County Sheriff’s Major of Investigative Services, John Oliver, along with members of
the Metro Narcotics Unit and the U.S. Marshall’s Violent Fugitive Task Force, conducted two arrest warrants.
Major Oliver: “Our metro agents are committed to continuing to investigate all overdose related cases to their fullest
to hold those accountable for their actions.”

An arrest warrant was executed in Akron where deputies located and arrested 36-year-old Damon Marcus Slocum
and 31-year-old Tiffanie Angel Kegley at their home, each on a charge of Involuntary Manslaughter, a Felony 1.
Detectives determined Slocum and Kegley directly contributed to the death of Sean Latham in May, 2016 by
supplying him with the heroin that caused his fatal overdose.

A roughly three-month-long investigation led detectives to conduct a second arrest warrant at a home in Massillon.
23-year-old Vernall Floyde Robinson has been charged with one count of Corrupting Another with Drugs, a Felony 2;
and Tampering with Evidence, a Felony 3.

The charges come after a person overdosed on heroin in a public restroom. The victim was transported to the
hospital where he received long-term care for a serious medical condition caused by the heroin Robinson distributed.
The investigations represent a strong partnership between multiple law enforcement agencies and the Stark County
Prosecutor’s Office. Each play a critical role in keeping Stark County safe.

Stark County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Scott offers this comment on behalf of County Prosecutor John Ferrero:
“As our county fights the heroin epidemic together, our office will do all we can to assist the justice system and
treatment community to sensibly rehabilitate heroin users. But, we will continue to work with law enforcement to
aggressively prosecute heroin traffickers and hold them accountable for the death and misery their deadly product
spreads.

 

Published in Local
Friday, 10 February 2017 12:21

Drug Suspect Leads Troopers On I-77 Chase

The suspect in a  dramatic police chase that tied up traffic on I-77 Thursday afternoon for more than an hour White Pond Drive and Brecksville Road has been charged with a laundry list of crimes including fleeing and eluding, drug posession and trafficking, and felonious assault on a police officer.

The Ohio State Patrol says Michael Hodge, 24, from Maple Heights, intentionally slammed into two highway patrol cruisers, and refused to pull over when they tried to stop him for multiple traffic violations. After a pursuit that crossed from the northbound lanes to the southbound lanes on I-77, Hodge's car was eventually stopped when he wound up in the median at 77 and Brecksville Road while trying to avoid spike strips. That's where he got out of his car and tried to run. Troopers, with the help of Bath Police, caught up to Hodge. 

The State Patrol says they found cocaine, heroin, and digital scales in Hodge's car, as well as ammunition along the side of the road which they allege he threw out of his car window

Published in Local
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 07:53

Three Inmates Overdose At Medina Co. Jail

Medina County Jail officials investigating how three inmates overdosed in a holding area at the jail last Friday. 

It happened in a pre-booking area at the jail that has no cameras in it. A deputy was walking by the room and noticed two of the three inmates on the ground. 

The room is also an area where inmates are held prior to going through a full-body scanner. 

Officials think it was heroin that one of the men had hidden inside him. 

Now, Medina County looking at changing their booking process. 

 

Published in Local
Thursday, 12 January 2017 17:43

AUDIO: Addressing The Issues At Oriana House

An Akron City Council committee took time this week to address issues at Oriana House, including a recent fatal overdose. Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley Samples and Oriana House Executive Vice President Bernie Rochford joined Jasen to discuss the concerns and how to improve recovery programs in Akron.

Published in Jasen Sokol
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 11:50

Record Increase In Summit Co. OD Deaths

Summit County officials estimate that 2016 was a record-setting year for the number of drug overdose deaths in the county. 

Tests are still being conducted, and won't be completed until Spring, 2017, but officials estimate the total number of overdose deaths is somewhere between 225 and 250 for 2016. That would be an 11.3% increase over 2015, according to officials. 

Dr. Margo Erme with Summit County Public Health says, while the numbers are not surprising, there needs to be concentrated effort from health officials, law enforcement, and the public. "There is no one solution," Erme says. "We did not get to the situation overnight and it's multifactorial as to how we got here, so there is not going to be a single fix. 

Dr. Erme notes the number of visits to Summit County emergency departments that were attributed to drug overdoses was about 2,423. She says that has a lot to do with the prevalence of more deadly drugs, including fentanyl and carfental. 

Published in Local
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 17:15

Frye Family Heroin Supplier Sentenced

The man who supplied the heroin that killed 16 year-old Andrew Frye in a Green hotel room has been sentenced for heroin possession.

59 year-old Donald Callaghan, the boyfriend of Andrew's grandmother Brenda, will spend six months in the Glenwood Jail and two years under community control.

Brenda Frye tried to buy heroin from Callaghan, and took it herself after he passed out and gave it to her daughter, Heather Frye...Andrew's mother.

Brenda and Heather Frye have been sentenced to nine years in prison.

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(Summit County Prosecutor's Office, news release) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Lynne Callahan sentenced Donald Callaghan, 59, of Neville Avenue in Akron, to six months in the Summit County Glenwood facility and two years Community Control. Callaghan was also ordered to be assessed for drug treatment.

On September 12, 2016, Callaghan pled guilty to the following charge:

Possession of Heroin – a felony of the 5th degree

Summit County Law Enforcement conducted a search of Callaghan's home following the death of 16-year-old Andrew Frye on April 6, 2016. Frye died in a Green motel room after taking heroin obtained by his grandmother, 52-year-old Brenda Frye.

Brenda Frye was Callaghan's girlfriend at the time of Andrew's death and arranged to purchase heroin from Callaghan. However, Callaghan was passed out from substance use and was unable to provide the heroin to Brenda. Brenda knew the location of the heroin and completed the transaction. Brenda then gave the drugs to her daughter Heather. Brenda and Heather are both currently serving nine year prison sentences after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with Andrew's death.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 12:30

More Ohio Pharmacies Carrying Naloxone

On Wednesday, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy released information regarding the availability of naloxone (Narcan), the potentially life-saving opiate-overdose antidote drug, in pharmacies statewide. 

The press release stated that more than 1,300 pharmacies in 84 counties throughout Ohio offer naloxone. Recently added to the participating pharmacies were Giant Eagle and Rite Aid stores, which has increased that number. 

Naloxone is described as a safe medication that holds the potential to reverse an overdose that is caused by prescription opioids, heroin, and/or fentanyl. If the drug is administered while a patient is overdosing, it blocks the effects of the opioids on the brain and can restore breathing in a matter of minutes in some cases. 

"I am pleased that pharmacies throughout Ohio are recognizing the importance of offering this life-saving medication," said State Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Steven W. Shierholt. 

Recently, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 4 into law, allowing pharmacies to dispense naloxone without a prescription. As a direct result of the law, and now with the addition of Giant Eagle and Rite Aid, 65% of Ohio pharmacies (1,374) carry the drug. 

Published in Local

Just days after attending a rally focusing on the heroin epidemic in Akron, a local woman found herself more than a thousand miles away getting treatment for her addiction.

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Tonia Wright's 21-year-old daughter Kylie found herself in need of help -- struggling with addition shortly after the birth of her child in 2013.

"She liked the high of the pain pills and the opiates and it eventually led to heroin," said Tonia. "We had no idea."

It wasn't until Tonia recieved a phone from her daughter in April of 2015 that she realized her daughter was in trouble. Kylie was found sweating and vomiting and later admitted to her mother that she was suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

Tonia has been by her daughter's side looking for help and dealing with the often long wait periods to get into an inpatient treatment center in the area.

"They would put her in a five-day detox but after the five-day detox, they would put her back on the streets on a waiting list for rehab. We'll guess what? She started using again."

But it was guidance and advice from those at a heroin rally at Lock 3 in mid-August that led Kylie to find immediate help.

"She called me at 10:15 Monday morning. At 5:30 Monday evening, Kylie was on a plane," said Tonia. "That all came from the rally."

Kylie found out her health insurance would allow her to seek help at a treatment center in Florida. She was accepted and immediately told to head out on the next flight to begin her recovery treatment. That was less than a week after attending the rally.

Wright is now sharing her experience to help others and to spread the message on other resources that are available in Summit County and beyond. She helped to launch the "Akron Epidemic News" Facebook page to update the community on resources and news across the area.

"There are so many treatment plans that I was completely unaware of that nobody ever brought to my table and it's there. You just have to find it."

Published in Local
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 10:11

Ohio Good Samaritan Law In Effect

Ohio House Bill 110, the "911 Good Samaritan Law," was signed by Governor John Kasich back in June and takes effect Tuesday. 

The law offers immunity from prosecution to anyone who is trying to report a drug overdose, whether it be for themselves or someone else, and is actively seeking help. It covers people who are calling 911, trying to report to police or to a medical facility up to two times. The third time, the law states, would leave the person reporting the overdose open to being charged with drug offenses. 

The Good Samaritan Law is one of several efforts being made in Ohio to curb drug addiction and overdoses that have spiked over the first half of 2016, especially over the past few months. 

Read more about the law here

Published in Local
Monday, 12 September 2016 11:46

Fourth Pleads Guilty In Akron Teen Overdose

Guilty pleas across the board now for the four adults who's heroin habits helped kill a 16-year old ini a Green hotel room back in April. Andrew Frye died of an overdose watched by his mother Heather, grandmother Brenda and family friend Jessica Irons. Now 59-year old Donald Callahan pleads guilty to posession of heroin, the fatal dose. He was supposed to go on trial today. He'll be sentenced in October.
- - -

(Summit Prosecutor's Office) Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced today that Donald Callaghan, 59, of Neville Avenue in Akron, pled guilty to possession of heroin. Callaghan's girlfriend, 52-year-old Brenda Frye, sold heroin belonging to Callaghan to her daughter Heather. Heather Frye's 16-year-old son Andrew died after ingesting the heroin.

Callaghan pled guilty as indicted to the following charge:

Possession of Heroin – a felony of the 5th degree

On August 31, 2016, Brenda Frye, Heather Frye, and Jessica Irons all pled guilty to various charges, including involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the death of Andrew Frye.

On April 6, 2016, 16-year-old Andrew Frye was found dead at a hotel room in Green, Ohio. The Summit County Medical Examiner determined the teen died from injecting heroin. Investigators discovered Frye's mother Heather, her friend Jessica Irons, and Heather Frye's mother Brenda Frye (Andrew's Grandmother) were all in the hotel room prior to Andrew's death. As part of their investigation, Summit County Sheriff's Deputies discovered the heroin Andrew used was obtained by Brenda Frye from her boyfriend Donald Callaghan. Brenda sold the heroin to Andrew's mother Heather while Andrew was present.

Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Lynne Callahan is scheduled to sentence Callaghan on October 26, 2016 at 1pm.

story updated 1:34 p.m.

Published in Local
Thursday, 01 September 2016 17:32

AUDIO: Jasen Sokol Show Heroin Forum

The Jasen Sokol Show traveled to Summit County Public Health Wednesday for a forum on the heroin and opioid addiction problem in Greater Akron. The discussion ranged from treatment and recovery options to the new drug disposal pouches available at Acme Fresh Market locations to the stories of family members who lost loved ones to heroin. If you missed any of the interviews, hear them in the player below.

Published in Jasen Sokol
Friday, 26 August 2016 10:27

Day Five: Getting Heroin Off The Streets

When it comes to the heroin epidemic, there are a number of different ways treatment organizations, law enforcement and city leaders are working to tackle the issue. The court system is no different.

"The only way to get these very dangerous and deadly drugs off the streets is to lock up the supplier," said Margaret Scott, deputy chief of the criminal division at the Summit County Prosecutor's Office.

So far this year, 11 people have been charged with manslaughter in connection with heroin overdose deaths in the area.

"These drug dealers, they know exactly what they're doing," said Scott. "They are selling these drugs to people who they know physically have an addiction, and have to have it and feel they have to have it, they're taking their money and they know that it's likely that they will die."

READ Akron Police Chief Adds New Heroin Unit

"Within the past three years, we started to see an increase in actually charging the trafficker with a homicide, and hopefully getting them locked up for a long enough time to keep the product off the streets."

Scott said there are also court programs in place to help connect those battling an addiction with local treatment centers.

Published in Local

As our week-long series on the heroin epidemic comes to an end, it's just the beginning for those who have high hopes to make a difference in the community.

Take for example Travis and Shelly Bornstein who lost their son two years ago. They want to open a treatment center on the same vacant lot in Akron where their son, Tyler, died from a heroin overdose.

"The person [Tyler] was with took him to a vacant lot at the corner of Arlington and Alfred and left him there to die," said Travis. "That was on Sept. 28 of 2014. Ever since then, our family has been trying to work to try to bring positive change to the heroin/opiate epidemic."

Shelly Bornstein and her sister, Laura Broyles, officially launched the non-profit program, Breaking Barriers - Hope is Alive, to raise awareness and money to build a new treatment center in the city.

"It's not going to be an easy solve," said Travis. "We cannot get into the blame game. We all have to come together as a community to work together to solve this."

Travis, the current president of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, attended the union's international convention in Las Vegas in June with hopes of raising awareness about the new non-profit organization. It didn't take long for the donation pledges to roll in -- totaling around $1.4 million.

While it may seem like a lot of money, Travis say much more is needed to build a fully operational facility in the city.

"We can probably build a building, but we can't operate, fund and staff a state-of-the-art facility like we would like to have with $1.4 million."

Breaking Barriers continues to hold fundraisers and has launched an online crowdfunding page to raise money to carry out the goal of building a new treatment center in Akron, but Travis says it's also about building partnerships with city leaders and community members.

"A big part of our hope. A big part of our mission is to offer hope. We need to offer hope to our community."

 

Published in Local

Kim DeMassimo knows what it's like to be the family member of an addict. Her cocaine-addicted husband left her with next to nothing and a bank account with a negative balance. Now, she's trying to help other people dealing with the same struggle.

DeMassimo is involved with SOLACE Summit County, a group geared toward the families of addicts that meets in an informal setting to heal and learn. She says many family members don't know what to do when a member of their family is addicted. 

Among the long-term goals for DeMassimo is the creation of a one-stop hotline that could provide a wide range of information to the families of addicts. She formed a nonprofit, Spiritual Saturation, with the goal of becoming a clearinghouse for resources from help paying bills to treatment options to purchasing simples 

SOLACE meets twice a month on Saturdays at The Grand Exchange, 933 W. Exchange St., Akron. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Published in Jasen Sokol
Friday, 26 August 2016 07:00

Day Five: AUDIO APD To Carry Narcan

There are steps being taken to address some of the community concerns surrounding the heroin epidemic in Akron. The Akron Police Department has started training officers on using Narcan to help save the lives of those who may have overdosed.

"We want to do everything we can to save lives," said Akron Police Chief James Nice. "So the next step is to put in into the police cruisers. In case the cruiser does get there before EMS, we're given every opportunity to save a life."

Nice said it's not often that police officers arrive on scene of an overdose before EMS, but he still believes it's important to have officers equipped with the drug to offer help.

At this point, Nice said carrying Narcan does not come with a cost for the department. The first shipment of the supply will come from the hospitals and the Summit County Health Department. Nice said grants are expected to help pay for additional supplies when needed.

Nice expects Narcan to be in every police cruiser beginning this Friday.

 

Published in Local

Treating heroin addiction is difficult enough. But a condition such as depression makes treatment even more challenging. Dr. Dustin Blakeslee of Cleveland Clinic Akron General says a heroin treatment patient also suffering from depression usually can't be treated with the traditional course of medicines because they are rendered ineffective. Blakeslee talked to Jasen about the links between heroin abuse and depression and the challenges of treating someone suffering from both.

Published in Jasen Sokol

One of the most pressing issues affecting the heroin crisis is the lack of beds available for treatment. CommQuest Services is working to change that, adding 16 new beds for men to the existing 38 at its Wilson Hall facility in Massillon. While CommQuest President and CEO Keith Hochadel says Stark County's heroin problem isn't as severe as in Summit County, his organization still has a waiting list for beds. Hochadel talked to Jasen about the scope of the heroin problem in Stark County, the expanded treatment facility, and how CommQuest applies the 12-step program to heroin addiction.

Published in Jasen Sokol

It's hard to define just one issue when it comes to the heroin epidemic in Akron. But for Raynard Packard, it's an issue that he faces on the front doorstep of his recovery institute everyday.

"A woman overdosed here," said Packard as he pointed outside the front door of the Packard Institute in West Akron. "Her car came to to a rolling stop in the middle of the street here and she overdosed. The paramedics pulled up and said 'Oh, she's just number 20 today.'"

Right outside the institute sits a sign with the amount of overdoses so far this year. For Packard, it's a daily reminder of the problem that continues to surface in Akron and surrounding communities.

"For us to be effective, in times of true need, we need to continue to be able to provide those different levels of care."

The institute doesn't have the resources to help everyone struggling with an addiction, but the Packard said he has been able to work with more than a thousand people searching for a way out of the heroin cycle.

"I don't mean a 28-day program," said Packard. "I do mean a sustainable, meaningful, tribal system of care."

Packard said he has come across too many people who have lost their lives while waiting for a bed at a treatment facility. Packard hopes additional funding will be made available to open new facilities and educate kids and adults on addiction.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 05:00

Day Three: Overdose Help Inside Hospitals

You don't have to look far to see the impact the heroin epidemic has had on local hospitals.

Dr. Scott Wilber, chair of emergency medicine at Summa Health System, says they had to move some of the hospital's supply of naloxone to the entrance area -- because time is everything and they may need to administer the drug in a car to save a person's life.

But there are still questions as to what happens after the patient is revived from the anti-heroin drug.

Dr. Wilber said the hospital system works with the ADM Board to provide counselors to discuss treatment options that are available in the community, but Wilber does note that the waiting lists are still there.

"We do find that some patients want immediate treatment for their addiction. However, because of the limited resources we have and the long waits, that's generally not feasible ," said Wilber. "We generally have to put people on waiting lists in order to get them addiction treatment."

While the hospital works with the ADM Board to offer treatment options to overdose victims, some refuse the help.

Wilber said the amount of heroin overdose victims the hospital has treated has increased significantly over the past month.

"We also saw that beginning in July, the potency of the heroin that was being used in Akron increased significantly and we've seen that continue. We have seen some slight decrease since then, but really it is significantly higher than it was earlier this year."

 

Published in Local
Tuesday, 23 August 2016 05:00

Day Two: Families Need Support, Too

Ask family and friends of the those who have a loved one struggling with addiction and you'll find that the issue impacts them too.

Tonda DeRae of Carrollton is the founder of Holly's Song of Hope, an organization, named after her daughter who passed away from a heroin overdose three years ago, aimed at helping families in need of support.

"When I lost Holly, there really wasn't anything out there for me," said DeRae. "That's that made me go after that first.

Click here to read Holly's story.

holly

"They're like 'Look, my parents tried this and it didn't work at all' or 'they tried that and that really sunk in,'" said DeRae. "So it really helps. It's a real good balance of peer to peer support."DeRae launched an online support group where family and friends can reach out for help, ask questions and hear directly from those in recovery.

More than 1,400 people have joined the online support group on Facebook.

DeRae has worked with Senator Rob Portman to raise awareness on the need for help in Ohio and across the country when it comes to resources for those struggling with a heroin addiction. She's been an outspoken supporter of Portman's Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), designed to pay for education, treatment and recovery programs to prevent drug abuse.

Published in Local
Thursday, 11 August 2016 19:43

AUDIO: Mary Taylor Talks Heroin Epidemic

With the heroin epidemic seemingly spinning out of control, many people are asking what the government is doing to address it. Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor joined Jasen to talk about what the state is doing and what more it can do to address the quickly growing problem.

Published in Jasen Sokol
Wednesday, 10 August 2016 08:05

Heroin Epidemic Takes Center Stage

"No more heroin."
 
Those words from the crowd of more than a thousand at Lock 3 Tuesday evening as family and friends of loved ones struggling with a heroin addiction called on city and state officials to offer help and additional resources in the city. 
 
"This is the hardest, and worst hit communities in the world in my eyes, and I see it everyday," said event organizer Billy Pfaff of Massachusetts. 
 
Pfaff launched the Facebook page "Heroin is killing my town" to fight against the heroin epidemic. His online videos has gained national attention. He encouraged people to come together and call on state and federal officials to make a change -- citing the lack of space available at treatment centers across the area. 
 

"There's no beds," said Pfaff. "We need to get beds and we need to get them right now." 
 
David Rutters of Akron was at the "Call to Action" event passing out flyers with the names and phone numbers of those who are in recovery and willing to talk to someone who is currently struggling with a heroin addiction. 
 
"If you don't have support, you're doomed," said Rutters. "You have to have a good support system. That's a big deal."  
 
Rutters said the event helped to paint a picture of the diversity of those affected by the heroin problem in Akron and surrounding communities. 
 
"Everybody here is here because they've probably lost somebody. We're not all here because we're just addicts." 
 
But it wasn't just the people making a statement at the event. Take for example a white Mustang that was sitting in the middle of the park.
 
"We sanded it off like four months ago and then had people that lost a loved one to heroin sign the car and then we'll clear coat it," said Phillip Clute with the Warriors Project in Canton, an organization that provides support for those battling an addiction. 
 
An online petition to request a state of emergency in Ohio has collected more than 5-thousand signatures.
 
Published in Local

Heroin continues to dominate the topic of discussions in Akron after hundreds of overdoses were reported in the area over the past month.

In the past two years, Adam Hayes of Akron says he has lost over 30 friends to heroin. Hayes hopes to be part of the solution to the heroin epidemic and raise awareness in the community. That's why he's helping to organize an "Call to Action" event in downtown Akron Tuesday night.

"I got involved because of all the friends I have lost and also because want to do something positive and be a positive role model for my son and my daughter," said Hayes.

Hayes hopes the event will not only raises awareness, but also focus on the ways to create more space at treatment facilities and provide training on administering the drug naloxone save the lives of heroin overdose victims. Hayes was inspired by Billy Pfaff, of Massachusetts, who is the founder of the non-profit anti-heroin organization Heroin is Killing My Town.

Pfaff posted a video on Facebook stating that the city of Akron is the hardest hit area that he has come across and that he would travel to the Rubber City to raise awareness. The video has been shared more than 9,000 times and has more than 280,000 views.

Hayes said he contacted Pfaff to organize Tuesday night's event on South Main Street near Lock 3 at 7 p.m. The event will be followed by a candlelight vigil. 

Published in Local

17 overdoses and one death in one day have city and county officials reacting to Akron's heroin epidemic.

Akron mayor Dan Horrigan says the problem can't just be solved by arresting people.

"We must realize while our first responders continue to bear the brunt of this epidemic," Horrigan told reporters at a news conference at the Summit County Public Health Department, "this is long past moved into the public health crisis, and away from a public safety crisis that afflicts many communities across our state and across our country."

And Akron police chief James Nice, his department investigating what happened Tuesday and any link between the cases, says the epidemic will continue while the supply keeps coming in...which nothing that local police can stop...

"But as long as the supply is coming in so strong from Mexico, which the Akron Police Department is not able to do much from it coming into the country," Chief Nice says, "we're going to have problems with heroin as long as it coming into the country so easily."

The overdoses happened in the afternoon and evening hours in various parts of Akron.

A 44 year-old man died, and among those who survived were a mother and two adult daughters, who all overdosed at the same time.

Most survived thanks to the anti-heroin drug. Narcan, but police say that the heroin may have been laced with fentanyl...which is more resistant to Narcan.

As of early Wednesday afternoon, two more overdoses have been reported.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 06 July 2016 06:55

15 Heroin Overdoses In Akron Tuesday

Akron Police were busy with 15 heroin overdose-related calls Tuesday. 

The first call came in around 1 p.m., and the calls continued throughout the evening Tuesday. Reports of heroin overdoses were coming from all over Akron, including one call about 4 overdoses in one apartment on Copley Road. The Summit County Coroner's Office reports that one 44-year-old man died from overdose symptoms; an autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday. 

Akron PD reports that there have been 55 heroin overdose deaths over the first 6 months of 2016. 

Published in Local

Teamsters from across the U.S. are pledging big bucks to an Akron-based nonprofit that is dedicated to awareness surrounding the heroin epidemic that is plaguing Northeast Ohio and the entire country. 

Travis Bornstein, along with two others, started the Breaking Barriers nonprofit after the overdose death of Bornstein's 24-year-old son Tyler in 2014. Bornstein, who is the head of the Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, spoke at a national Teamsters convention in Las Vegas on Wednesday. He spoke about his son and the growing heroin problem. After his speech, Bornstein says the donations began pouring in to the amount of $1.4 million. Going into the event, the fund at Breaking Barriers didn't exceed $10,000, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. 

In 2014, Bornstein's son Tyler's body was found in a vacant lot in Coventry Township, where he fatally overdosed on heroin. During his speech to the Teamsters, Bornstein said his goal is to build a treatment facility on that lot. 

Published in Local
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 17:46

Feds Indict Akron Fentanyl Dealer

A 27-year old Akron man is the latest casualty of the war on heroin and fentanyl, but a casualty still alive andindicted by a federal grand jury on charges he supplied the fatal does of fentanyl that killed a drug user identified as "J.H." by the U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio last September. Jurmaine Jeffries faces two counts in the indictment with an extra sentencing penalty because the drug overdose led to a death, said Acting U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon.

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(U.S. Attorney) An Akron man was indicted on federal charges for distributing fentanyl that caused the death of a person in last fall, said Carole Rendon, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Jurmaine A. Jeffries, 27, was named in the two-count indictment. He is charged with distribution of fentanyl and possession with intent to distribute fentanyl. The indictment also seeks a sentencing enhancement because the fentanyl Jeffries sold resulted in the death on Sept. 16, 2015, of a person identified as J.H. in Akron, according to the indictment.

"We will continue to work to educate the public on the dangers of opioids and get help for those who want it," Rendon said. "We will also aggressively prosecute those who sell heroin and fentanyl, which have caused so much pain and death in our community."

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda K. Barr following an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

If convicted, the defendant's sentence will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant's prior criminal records, if any, the Defendant's role in the offenses and the unique characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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The mother, grandmother, and two others charged in the heroin death of a 16-year-old have officially been indicted.

A Summit County Grand Jury handed down the indictment against four people includingmother Heather Frye, 31, grandmother Brenda Frye, 52, both of Akron, and Jessica Irons, 34, of Stow.

The three are facing several charges including involuntary manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Andrew Frye who was found dead at a hotel room in Green on April 6th. Police say all three were in the hotel room prior to Andrew's death.

Authorities also discovered that the heroin Andrew used was obtained from the grandmother boyfriend, Donald Callaghan, 58, of Akron. He has been charged with possession of heroin.

All four are scheduled to be arraigned on May 4.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 14:56

Grand Jury To Hear Cases In Teen's Death

The cases involving the mother and grandmother who are accused of supplying a deadly dose of heroin to a teenager are heading to the grand jury on Tuesday, April 19.

Mother Heather Frye and grandmother Brenda Frye are being charged with involuntary manslaughter, among other charges for the death of 16-year-old Andrew Frye who died of an apparent overdose in a Green Hotel room last week.

They appeared via video arraignment at a Barberton Municipal Court hearing on Wednesday.

Heather's sister Misty Frye told WAKR.net that it's all been a mistake.

"I don't think anything was intentionally done, we all know somebody is going to serve time out of this."

Like her mother and sister, Misty Frye also struggles with drug addiction but now says she is two years sober but it is hard to get clean without the right tools.

"If you dont have the tools you dont know no other way of life," Misty said. "I finally got those tool and I think they both need some rehab and need to sit down for a little bit."

In a related case, Judge David Fish reduced the bond of family friend Jessica Irons from $100,000 to $30,000 and ordered her to check into rehab.

Irons is being charged with drug possesion and tampering with evidence.

Published in Local
Monday, 15 February 2016 07:00

Largest Heroin Bust For Alliance Police

Alliance police made their largest heroin bust over the weekend. Police say detectives found 50 grams of un-cut heroin with a street value of up to $10-thousand dollars after serving search warrants on West Main and East Grant streets on Friday night. Ghani Malik Khalifa-El (formerly Demetrius "Meech" Miles) was arrested and charged with trafficking in heroin and possession.

In a Facebook post, officers say they have "split emotions" over making the bust. Police say heroin continues to plague nearby communities.

 

 
 
Published in Local
Tuesday, 09 February 2016 15:28

Community Leaders Discuss Heroin Epidemic

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan held a round table discussion with Akron area community leaders to find a solution to the growing heroin epidemic.

Ryan says the big takeaway from the discussion is trying to find a way to give more money to local agencies.

"These communities need money," Ryan tell WAKR.net. "They need resources whether it is on the prosecution side, law enforcement side, drug court side, treatment side. They need help and there have been a lot of federal cuts in the last few years. "

In addition to low funds, Ryan says there is a need to remove current restrictions that prevent some people from getting proper treatment.

"Right now there is a limitation because the law only allows people a certain number of beds who are dealing with addiction issues," Ryan said. "We want to get rid of that barrier so that these folks that need a place to go have a place to go."

Ryan also says the federal government needs to crack down harder on penalties for selling and distributing fentanyl and heroin.

Published in Local
Monday, 23 November 2015 11:53

Stark County Heroin Deaths Rise

For every life that was lost to heroin in Stark County this year, a cross has been placed in front of the county's sheriff's department.

Stark County Sheriff's deputies are hoping the image raises awareness and encourages others to speak up after the number of deaths in the area has significantly increased.

"It's a community problem and we need to address it as a community," said Major C.J. Stantz with the Stark County Sheriff's Office.

So far this year, 34 people have died from a heroin overdose -- an increase from 23 deaths reported during the same period last year.

Officials have placed a message board outside the Stark County Sheriff's Office with an anonymous tip line to help prevent another fatal overdose from happening.

Published in Local
Wednesday, 19 March 2014 12:00

Akron Police Chief Adds New Heroin Unit

Heroin continues to be a problem in the state and across the country. Akron's police chief has decided to tackle the growing problem by forming a unit targeting heroin dealers for possible murders charges in cases of fatal overdoses.

Police Chief James Nice says the department has worked to track high level dealers - those involved with large amounts of drugs - but now they're also coming after the low level dealers that are directly handing the drugs to the users.

"People are dying weekly from heroin overdoses. It's outrageous. It's unlike some of the other drug problems we've had," said Nice.

Nice said low level dealers barely get any jail time for carrying a small amount of drugs, but he believes they should hold some responsibility in cases of fatal overdoses.

"These people, to me, are the most egregious people that are convincing people to use heroin, giving it to them and they're dead an hour later," said Nice. "Nothing is being done with those."

Nice said the department is working to build homicide cases against the dealers. He said they currently have one case pending, but details of the case were not released.

Nice is working to convince state lawmakers to consider the importance of having tougher laws against dealers in fatal overdose cases. He said

"Those are things as a chief that I can speak out on and have word on, but the laws need to change significantly."

The new heroin unit will consist of two detectives that will have a primary mission to focus on heroin overdose investigations and to track the dealers involved in the case.

Published in Local

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