Is the Heroin Epidemic Normal

Heroin is all around us. It is now an epidemic!

We can’t come to school without passing a scary billboard with an even scarier sheriff asking us to report heroin dealers, users or something. The billboard is too scary and too complicated to read while whizzing by on I-71.

Folks are afraid of heroin and it is a real problem. According to a Cincinnati Enquirer Article “Ohio Heroin Deaths hit new High” 680 people died from heroin use during 2012 up from the 426 in 2011. (Cincinnati. Com 4/18/2014, accessed 1/23/2016) Discussions on radio station WVXU report even higher numbers for 2014. Every heroin death is a tragedy.

Yet approximately 11.5 million people live in Ohio according to the US Census Bureau website. So heroin kills 0.006 % of the population or to put it differently 6 out of every 10,000 Ohioans die from heroin in a given year. According to the Ohio Department of Health website nearly 20,000 per year die from the flu each year in the United States, and according to the US Census Bureau there are approximately 319 million Americans, based on these numbers flu kills 0.006% of Americans each year. Roughly the same percentage as heroin.

But the flu is different than heroin. We can get a vaccine against the flu and no normal person chooses to get the flu. Yet heroin users choose to do heroin and there is not vaccine against it. All of us that choose not to get vaccinated against the flu are at risk of dying, while only heroin users are at risk of dying from heroin use.

The likelihood of dying from the flu or heroin is the same, so why do we believe that heroin deaths are a law enforcement matter instead of a public health matter?

Heroin has touched the lives of people I know whether it is the mom of a friend’s friend, a doctor friend, or police officers I know, or my children’s friends.

For heroin the law enforcement solution doesn’t seem to work. Is it normal for law enforcement to solve a public health issue? Why isn’t there an anti heroin public health campaign on the scale of those encouraging use to get a flu shot?







6 thoughts on “Is the Heroin Epidemic Normal

  1. I find, especially in the area that we live in, that Heroine is a huge problem. Calling it a crime rather than a mental health issue is only exacerbating the issue rather than trying to fix it. I believe the reason that heroin is such a derisive issue is not so much the death count…but the fact that it can effect family’s and communities in a way that a 1 month flu epidemic might not. People don’t get thrown in jail for having the flu…they do get thrown in jail for heroin, and that can effect the entire family for the rest of their lives. Nice conversation starter!


  2. It became clear to me over this past year when I lost two different people in their 20s due to heroin ODs, just how much of an epidemic this is. I certainly agree that there should be a public health campaign focusing on this, because it will take more than just law enforcement. However I think this is an area law enforcement should cover based on the fact that unlike the flu, Heroin is an illegal substance that can’t be cured by a shot, and is dealt by humans, so they need to do their part to stop it. I also think there should be more resources available to help addicts to beat their addiction.


  3. Overall I agree with what you’re trying to say. However, I would like to comment in particular to when you stated, “The likelihood of dying from the flu or heroin is the same…” as this is in no way true to any capacity. Regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated (although statistics/rates of contraction overwhelming favor vaccinations as an aide), whether or not you die from the flu is based primarily on the health care you receive/your current state of health. Whether or not you die from heroine is completely up to if you choose to use heroine or not. In other words, you can’t control if you get the flu, but you most certainly can control whether or not you choose to use heroin. Good post though, I understand and agree with your underlying arguments, I just think that part wasn’t properly phrased.


  4. I really liked your post. I also liked the quote “The likelihood of dying from the flu and heroin is the same” That really hit me. I also agree the heroin enforcement law does not work. I did not know all the facts about the flu. That is scary and I am glad I got my flu shot this year.


  5. Somebody mentioned above that using heroin is definitely a choice, and I agree with this statement. Drug use is a choice, and there’s no question that when you decide to do a drug, you assume the risks associated. I agree with you though, that it seems that a law enforcement approach seems to be failing us. Addiction is a mental illness, and the unfortunate truth is that many people don’t see this concept as true. We see drug addicts as pariahs and as bad people that deserve what happens to them without considering the factors that influence a person to become involved with illicit substances. I’ve really been thankful for the addiction services offered to many of my friends and family, and hope that we can find a way to expand access to this care for everyone. Thank you for writing about this topic!!


  6. I like what stance certain cities are taking against heroin, in that if you turn yourself in at a law enforcement office to get help, you will not be criminally charged or put in jail, but instead sent to a detox/therapy center in order to overcome your addiction. However, it still needs to be enforced when people are constantly putting their lives, and the lives of others, at risk. There are cities now making it mandatory that heroin ODs are treated and then immediately taken to jail afterwards. And you cannot argue with that. Every time a LEO or FF responds to a call, they are putting their lives on the line, and, in the case of an OD, for someone who already knew what they were getting into when they first shot up. That in and of itself is a criminal act.


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