Due to the spike in rates of addiction we’ve seen in recent years, there’s a major stigma against those who suffer from addiction. People tend to see addicts for their behaviors, which are very frequently motivated by the fear they have of withdrawal. At the height of addiction, addicts are compelled to obtain their substances of choice by whatever means are necessary, and this is especially true when it comes to heroin addiction. In fact, heroin is one of the biggest concerns of citizens, law enforcement, and public officials alike. Many individuals have been racking their brains in an attempt to come up with strategies that will help to decrease the skyrocketing rates of heroin use and addiction, which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has dubbed an “epidemic”. Like elsewhere in the U.S., the state of Ohio has been ravaged by the heroin epidemic, but a movement known as Hope Over Heroin has emerged as a prominent figure in this ongoing battle.
Heroin Epidemic Makes Overdose Deaths in Ohio Second-Highest in the U.S.
Today’s heroin epidemic can be traced back to the 1990s with the release of OxyContin by Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company responsible for the production and distribution of the drug. The company was aggressive in its marketing and sales of OxyContin, offering incentives to healthcare providers to prescribe the expensive and addictive narcotic. In a short period, there were copious amounts of OxyContin being prescribed to patients who realized that they could sell their surplus on the street. As other companies began to release their own narcotic painkillers to compete with OxyContin, there emerged a growing number of people who were becoming dependent on OxyContin; by the late 2000s, the problem had reached such proportions that a number of policy and manufacturing changes were put in place to make OxyContin and many other painkillers resistant to tampering and abuse. As a result, many of the people who had previously been addicted to painkillers began switching to a cheaper and more powerful street drug, heroin.
Since the popularity of heroin among drug users increased so rapidly, the number of heroin overdose deaths grew in proportion. For the year 2015, heroin or other opioid drugs were involved in 61 percent of all overdose deaths that occurred nationwide. Meanwhile, the state of Ohio has the second-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country, many of which are the result of heroin abuse. Year after year, Ohio has seen continual growth in rates of both heroin addiction and heroin overdose deaths with the latter breaking statewide records each year. The close proximity of Ohio’s metropolitan areas — Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron — where heroin use is highest means that the drug is easily transported throughout the state, making it readily available even in the most remote suburban and rural communities. This has been a major problem for Ohioans and even state and federal government representatives have commented on the need for additional prevention and treatment strategies to be put into effect throughout Ohio.
What is Hope Over Heroin?
It was during one particular week in 2014 when there was a total of 14 deaths from heroin overdoses in just Hamilton County, Ohio, alone. That amounts to two deaths per day from the abuse of heroin. In the wake of that fateful week, a small group of Hamilton County pastors took it upon themselves to take action. Cleddie Keith, Billy Price, and Lawrence Bishop II hit the streets to convey a very specific message to the community: Heroin is killing the state of Ohio. And so Hope Over Heroin was born.
The message the group spread struck a chord with citizens who quickly joined the initiative. In effect, Hope Over Heroin became a church-run evangelical fellowship that takes a more hands-on approach to the combatting of heroin addiction. Although it may sound ambitious, the goal of the group is to essentially help heroin addicts get off heroin by providing them with support and free recovery services. Over the years since Hope Over Heroin was conceived, the group has spread to virtually every major city in Ohio and is even emerging in some smaller cities. In each city where the groups sets up a base of operations, members of the community churches coordinate with one another to run Hope Over Heroin. It may seem like the actual support and treatment would be the most important component of the Hope Over Heroin movement, but the precursor is outreach.
Hope Over Heroin puts a major focus on outreach. Each chapter of the movement wants to be a very prominent presence in the community, ensuring that those who are struggling with heroin addiction — and even with other types of addiction since the movement will also offer assistance to alcoholics and those addicted to substances besides heroin — and in the hope of changing the defeatist tone that has long been the standard throughout Ohio. This involves hosting outreach events that are essentially small festivals that span several days and consist of food, entertainment, and meet-and-greets with the members of the church who run each community’s chapter. These events also incorporate memorial services to those individuals who have lost their lives to heroin addiction and take the time to commemorate the good people they weren’t able to reach in time. The results Hope Over Heroin have earned are quite impressive.
If you look on the Hope Over Heroin website, there is a small selection of testimonials that showcase some of the success stories to come out of the Hope Over Heroin efforts. In either written articles or videos, you can learn about the heroin-addicted drug dealer who got a second chance after receiving assistance from Hope Over Heroin. There’s another young woman who nearly lost her leg to infection resulting from her intravenous drug use before finally getting sober with the help of Hope Over Heroin. There are numerous other stories that are equally compelling, showing just how effective that the movement has been. What’s more, Hope Over Heroin shows no signs of slowing; it continues to spread throughout the state of Ohio, serving as a perfect example of what a well-intentioned community can do to combat the heroin epidemic.
Are You or a Loved One Struggling with Addiction?
If you or someone you love would like to learn more about the treatment options that are available, call Ohio Addiction Recovery Center toll-free at 800-481-8457. Our recovery experts are available anytime, day or night, to take your call.