Cincinnati, Ohio. The Queen’s City. And now, it’s becoming the country’s epicenter of heroin addiction. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Cincinnati is “a center of the crisis.” Follow the money, Bloomberg reports that 2017 will surpass last year’s profits for the American heroin business. The cartels have made so much money from the illegal trade that law enforcement can hardly make a dent, even though they spend most of their time making heroin-related arrests. Every dealer taken off the street is replaced by another willing seller within minutes.
Let’s take a step back to the late 1990s. Prescription drugs flowed freely into the hands of those in pain. Pain pills, often over-prescribed, told the nation that relief could take place immediately. And so it began, the cycle of addiction, which peaked in the years 2010 and 2011. Since then, stricter laws tightened the market for these proscription painkillers, and forced many now addicted, to move to the dangers of obtaining the drugs on the street. Enter big-city gangs and aggressive Mexican cartels. Today, Cincinnati is flooded with cheap heroin, destroying lives and ravaging communities.
The story gets darker as Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is being introduced into the heroin supply, making each dose cheaper, and more deadly. A more intense high creates a more powerful addiction. While heroin laced with Fentynal may kill some of the dealer’s customers, it creates a stronger market for those who make it. And since last summer, police are seeing the appearance of Carfentanil, a dangerous elephant tranquilizer. Just 2 grams can kill, and it can be absorbed through the skin simply by being touched. The stakes have risen in what has become an insidious numbers game for cartels. Medical reports say that Carfentanil and other types of synthetic opioids do not respond to treatments such as naloxone. Just another disturbing fact.
The numbers are frightening. In February, Cincinnati saw 78 opioid overdose victims in a single day, a staggering 13.1 cases per 100,000 population. Hamilton County saw a record 342 opioid overdose deaths last year (2016) and that number will be easily surpassed this year. One must wonder: Can this epidemic be stopped?
So, Why Cincinnati?
While many city centers are experiencing an explosive growth in opioid addiction, sellers in the Queen’s city have been exceptionally clever in their marketing efforts. It’s been widely reported that dealers offer “Weekend Specials,” Two-for-one deals, even distributing samples (marked with phone numbers) to attract new customers. With the numbers rising for both those who become hopelessly addicted and those who will die, opioid addiction is becoming a medical emergency and a national nightmare. With dealers and cartels raking in massive profits, there simply is too much incentive to increase production and pump poison into the streets. Cincinnati is suffering under the strain of the loss of middle-class job opportunities, cost-cutting at the federal level and aging population that has turned to street drugs to deal with pain and disease. But Cincinnati is not alone, more trouble is on the way.
The answer? If the government’s first duty is to protect its citizens, there is no clearer example than the current opioid addiction. China, Mexico and Hong Kong are just a few of the global villains profiting from the tragic downfall of so many Americans. Treatment and healing can only begin when these players are neutralized and the flow of poison is somehow stopped.
Help and support is within reach for you or a loved one battling addiction. Explore InRecovery’s national addiction treatment center directory now.