NARCAN saves the lives of heroin addicts, but many still keep using

Heroin use around Ohio has gone up some 300 percent over the past ten years, but so have the number of heroin overdoses.

The Cincinnati-area drug market is literally flooded with heroin, driving down the price and making the illegal drug even more attractive to addicts, but at a terrible cost.

Sandra Huehn, CEO of The Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment says the heroin problem is getting worse.

"Heroin addiction in Hamilton County, and actually all of Ohio is has really risen to epidemic proportion," she said.

Kuehn says many addicts get started on prescription pain killers and once hooked many addicts turn to heroin.

Amelia Police Chief David Friend says heroin is a frequent substitute for those addicted to pain pills.

"Heroin is the last-chance type drug that would be strong enough to support an addicted person's [addiction] and it's cheaper than oxycodone or percocet," he said.

An undercover Cincinnati narcotics officer says many cocaine dealers are now also selling heroin.

"Where before we were seeing ounce quantities or gram quantities, now we're seeing pounds and kilos of heroin," the officer said.

With all that cheap heroin on the streets overdoses are not uncommon.

"It seems like it comes in spurts in the city, but it seem like just about everyday you hear a run of somebody responding to a drug overdose," said Lt. Dan Miller, a paramedic with the Cincinnati Fire Department.

Chief David Friend says he's seen cases where an addict will get paid, go buy their drugs and shoot up minutes later in the nearest parking lot and overdose.

Paramedics have saved countless lives by giving a giving a drug called NARCAN to patients who have stopped breathing because of a heroin overdose.

"This is a fast acting drug that when administered a person can come out of the symptoms of an opiate within seconds," said Lt. Ron Wilkins, a paramedic with the Cincinnati Fire Department.

"It's basically an antidote for the morphine that's there or the heroin that's there or whatever opiate is there," said Dr. Tom Inhoff, a pharmacist at Good Samaritan-Tri Health.

However, Dr. Inhoff says the patient may require more than one dose of NARCAN since it doesn't stay active as long as the heroin.

Drug treatment experts say in many cases a near death experience isn't enough to stop an addict so they frequently go back to the drug that nearly killed them.

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