Mann: City must spend more on heroin crisis

May 4, 2015

After hearing a report on the region's heroin epidemic from city officials and community activists Monday, Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Mann introduced a motion asking that the city find ways to combat what he called "the heroin crisis" in the next city budget.

Cincinnati police officers, the fire chief and representatives of groups involved in dealing with drug abuse painted a bleak picture for council's Neighborhoods Committee of the the growing epidemic.

Fire Chief Richard Braun says calls to his department on heroin overdoses are growing.

“In 2012, 13, and 14, we averaged 1,800 runs on heroin use,’’ Braun told the committee. “So far this year, the first four months, we have already done 1,200, which means we will more than double the runs we take with this epidemic.”

Cincinnati police detective Cliff Mitchell told the committee that many of those hooked on heroin started with prescription pain-killers like Oxycontin; and that laws are being tightened in Ohio to slow the abuse and over-prescribing of those “gateway” drugs.

One of the problems, Mitchell said, is that while the prescription opiates are fairly expensive, costing $40 to $80 each, heroin is relatively cheap.

“People are paying as little as $10 to get a hit of heroin,’’ he said.

And it is not just a problem of the urban core, he said.

“It is in the suburban areas and particularly the rural areas as well,’’ he said.

Mann's motion did not spell out how much money the city should spend in the next budget. The committee agreed that the city must continue to be involved in the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force.