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?