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Heroin and fentanyl problem continues in NEOhio

Posted at 7:01 PM, Mar 23, 2016

More than 20 people have died in the past two weeks in Cuyahoga County from heroin and fentanyl overdoses, eight of those just in the past four days.

“I feel like it took over my everything that I was, or thought I wanted to be.”

Corey Eloph, 29, was addicted to heroin for the past three years.

“I started lying to my family, stealing. I lost all the will that I had to live or go forward in life, because all I thought about was just getting high.”

But she has beat the odds, so far. The Cuyahoga County Board of Health reported one person has died every day from heroin or fentanyl overdose in just this year alone.

“We’re kind of challenged with this moving target issue,” said Vince Caraffi, chair of the Cuyahoga County Opiate Task Force.

The scary thing is addicts sometimes don’t even know if they’re taking a hit of regular heroin or fentanyl. And that’s where it becomes deadly.

“People are maybe purchasing some things that they think is heroin and unbeknownst to them it’s actually cut with fentanyl or pure fentanyl so that increases their risk for an overdose,” Caraffi said.

He said part of the problem is the keeping up with the demand.

“One of the biggest things that we’re challenged with is just the lack of beds and a lack of treatment resources that are available.”

The Edna House, a treatment center for women, is trying to be part of the solution, but they too are having issues providing resources for the amount of addicts in need.

“We need more places like this, we don’t have enough beds,” said Judi Sparano, program director at the Edna House. She continued, “The major problem with trying to find another location is that everybody wants the addicts to get better, but nobody wants them to get better in their backyard.”

So can this heroin epidemic really be eradicated? I found out, the answer isn’t that simply.

“There is no magic bullet...the one key ingredient is willingness.”

Caraffi said, “The mechanisms that these cartels have in place, this business model, it beats us to the punch.”

Now living a sober life for the past nine months, Eloph said she knows what it’s like to be near death, but glad it didn’t come to that.  And for addicts listening, she has one piece of advice.

“Give it a shot and it does get better, I didn’t think it would, but it did.”

Both the Edna House and the Cuyahoga County Board of Health said changing the stigma surrounding addiction of all kinds will really help move the needle in a big way toward minimizing these overdoses, as it will enable families and addicts to push pass the fear and embarrassment to get the help they really need.