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Ohio Drug Addiction


Ohio drug addiction continues to be a serious public health problem across the state. While there are a number of initiatives developed to try and combat the problem, the level of Ohio drug addiction is quickly reaching crisis levels.

What is Street Drug Abuse?

Using any psychoactive drug for recreational purposes is considered drug abuse. Buying illegal drugs on the street for the purpose of getting high, buzzed, wired, or stoned is also drug abuse. While most people associate ‘hard’ drugs as being street drugs, there are some prescription medications that make their way onto the streets to be used for non-medical purposes, which also constitutes drug abuse.

Statistics for Ohio Drug Addiction and Abuse

In the years from 1999 to 2013, the death rate in Ohio as a result of accidental drug overdose has increased by 413%.

There were 2,110 overdose deaths recorded for Ohio residents in 2013 alone, which is the highest number of deaths caused by drug overdose on record, and represents a 10.2% increase from the number of overdose deaths in 2012.

The number of heroin-related deaths surpassed the number of deaths caused by prescription opiate medications for the first time. Authorities believe a link exists between drug users forming initial addictions to prescription opioid painkillers, before switching to heroin, which is more readily available and cheaper to purchase on the street.

The number of reports of heroin submitted for forensic analysis increased by 71% from 2010 to 2012. While methamphetamine (crystal meth) abuse remained relatively low in Ohio compared with other illicit street drugs, authorities still reported a 59.7% increase in the number of illegal methamphetamine laboratories from 2011 to 2012.

In 2013 the Ohio Highway Patrol reported that more than 54,200 prescription opiate pills and 46,200 grams of heroin were seized.


Commonly Abused Street Drugs

Some of the most commonly abused street drugs in Ohio include:



Heroin (diacetylmorphine) continues to be one of the most commonly abused illicit street drugs in Ohio, second only to marijuana. It is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, in the same category as LSD and marijuana.

Heroin is synthesized from the morphine molecule found within the opium poppy. When heroin enters the brain, it is converted back into morphine, which then binds to the brain’s opioid receptors that control the body’s automatic processes, including respiration and breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate.

The majority of heroin overdoses involve respiratory depression, or slowed breathing rate that reduces the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. Oxygen deprivation can cause significant long-term psychological effects, including coma and brain damage.




Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that acts directly on the central nervous system. It is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Powdered cocaine is either inhaled through the nose, or snorted, or dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream. By comparison, crystal-form cocaine, or more commonly known as crack cocaine, is sold as small rock crystals that can be smoked.

When cocaine enters the brain, it triggers the release of a flood of dopamine into the system that creates an artificial sense of happiness, well-being, and euphoria. However, cocaine also blocks the brain’s ability to re-uptake, or recycle, the dopamine in the body, causing an unnatural build-up of the hormone in the body that disrupts normal brain chemistry.

When the effects of the drug finally wear off, the user experiences a crash that can be psychologically devastating, leading many to take more of the drug to recapture the initial high.

Cocaine can damage the brain’s reward pathways, causing the user to feel as though the only way to experience any pleasure is to continue a dysfunctional habit of compulsive drug use.

Tolerance to cocaine develops quickly, and therefore a user may need to take higher doses in order to achieve the same effects that used to be reached with smaller amounts. Taking cocaine at higher doses can trigger extreme paranoia, psychotic behavior, and violent outbursts in many users

The majority of overdose deaths caused by cocaine involve heart attack, cardiac arrest, or stroke, quickly followed by respiratory arrest, or stopped breathing.


Crystal Meth

Crystal meth (methamphetamine) is an extremely addictive stimulant drug that is commonly sold as a white crystalline powder. It is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Meth can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream. Crystal meth has similar effects on the brain’s reward pathways as cocaine, triggering an artificial stimulus for the brain to release a flood of dopamine into the system.

Chronic crystal meth abuse can cause serious changes within the brain that can cause memory loss, cognitive problems, and permanent brain damage.


Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

The individual signs and symptoms of street drug abuse will vary, depending on the type of drug being taken. However, there are some common signs to look for, including:

  • Loss of control over drug usage
  • Tolerance, or needing to take higher doses to get the same effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms when drug intake stops suddenly
  • Taking more drugs to stop onset of withdrawal symptoms
  • Overwhelming cravings to take more drugs
  • Multiple failed attempts to quit taking drugs
  • Continuing to take drugs, even though they are causing harm or problems


Treatment Options Available

There are a number of treatment options available for anyone who wants to overcome a drug addiction problem. Rehab centers are able to provide a safe environment in which to begin the recovery process.

Inpatient treatments allow a recovering addict to be admitted into the facility to be treated under medical supervision. Not everyone is able to commit to a full-time rehab admission, and therefore outpatient treatments may be preferable for some people.

Outpatient treatments can include addiction treatment medications, such as methadone for recovering heroin addicts. Unfortunately, there are no treatment medications for treating cocaine or methamphetamine addiction, but other prescription medications may be available to treat other symptoms that may arise during the treatment process. Ongoing counseling and therapy is also available, along with support and guidance from group counseling and meetings.


Why Seek Treatment for Street Drug Abuse?

It is common for many people struggling with drug addiction to feel as though no one will be able to help them. In reality, seeking treatment to overcome addiction to illicit street drugs is the first step to recovery.

Seeking treatment in a rehab facility can make the detox process easier, as prescription medications could help to reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms. Likewise, detoxing under medical supervision reduces the risk of any serious medical complications that may arise.

Rehab facilities can also begin therapy to help address the psychological triggers behind the compulsive drug use. Counseling and therapy work to correct dysfunctional patterns of behavior and replace them with healthy, positive skills and strategies for living a drug-free life. If you struggle with street drug addiction, pick up the phone and speak to an addiction specialist when you are serious about your sobriety.