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In Appalachian Ohio – 1 in 10 Babies Born with OxyContin in Blood

Rural Ohio struggling to cope with opiate abuse and the tragedies that accompany it.

Scioto County Ohio is a place heavy in OxyContin abuse – so common is the addiction in this once prosperous manufacturing center that a whopping one in ten babies born to Scioto County mothers are born with OxyContin already circulating in the blood.

Other facts that paint a staggering picture of the scale of rural Ohio’s prescription opiate problem include:

  • By 2007, drug overdoses passed car accidents as the state’s leading cause of accidental death
  • Fatal drug overdoses are up 400% from a decade ago
  • More people died from drug overdoses in Ohio in 2008 and 2009 than died in the 2001 World Trade Center terrorist attacks

Scioto County authorities say it’s tough to police the distribution of a legal drug. Although they have had some success in shutting down pain pill clinics for over prescribing, there are still 5 in operation within the county alone and several of these are run by convicted felons.

The problem is so bad in Scioto that Ohio Governor John Kasich announced last month an extra 36 million dollars in funding for drug addiction funding – some of it earmarked for a drug addiction pilot project to be run within the troubled county. 

Lisa Roberts, who works as a nurse in the health dept in Portsmouth, the county Seat, says she sees everyday the destruction of the drug that’s just overtaken her community, saying, “Around here, everyone has a kid who’s addicted. It doesn’t matter if you’re a police chief, a judge or a Baptist preacher. It’s kind of like a rite of passage.”

At the national Level, President Obama took time to comment on the massive scale of the prescription drug abuse problem in speech on Tuesday, when he noted that prescription drugs are now killing more people than heroin in the 1970s and crack cocaine in the 1980s did combined.

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