Thursday, April 17, 2014
NEO's Heroin Epidemic
You won't find many conversations about Northeast Ohio's current heroin epidemic more productive, useful and informative than the one we hosted January 31st.
This came together late last year, when Judge Michael Astrab and his bailiff, Mike Cook, reached out to us to pitch the idea of a forum on heroin. The stories Judge Astrab shared with us in that meeting--the heroin-using senior citizen who reminded him of his own mother, the suburban communities where this was popping up--were more than enough to convince us this would be a worthwhile forum.
Sometimes, you don't want to be prescient. Three days after the forum, Oscar-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his hotel room. Subsequent investigation revealed the cause of death to be a heroin overdose. In the weeks since, reports found heroin-related deaths had reached record highs in 2013, and police arrested three men on manslaughter charges for allegedly selling lethal fentanyl-laced heroin.
We are lucky to be able to do this kind of work of pointing the spotlight at shared problems, but we understand the critique you might be forming in your head, and we agree: heroin was a major problem, too, before it took the lives of privileged people in privileged neighborhoods.