drug abuse

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The numbers are in, and they aren't good.

law enforcement officials behind a podium
Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Updated March 9, 2018 at 4:55 p.m.

Nine of 12 individuals charged in U.S. District Court in Ohio in a narcotics and money laundering scheme are in custody following a year-long FBI investigation. More than 40 others are charged in San Diego, Columbus, Lexington, Kansas and Washington in a case with ties to the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.

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Much of the reporting on the heroin crisis is focused on the tragic aspects of the epidemic, leaving people feeling helpless and hopeless without an end in sight. A local organization, the Urban Minority Alcohol & Drug Abuse Outreach Program (UMADAOP), says getting out a message of help and hope is equally as important as telling the story of risk and loss.

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Cincinnati Union Bethel's Off The Streets program has been helping women involved in prostitution and sex trafficking for a decade. 

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Needle exchange programs allow intravenous drug users to trade in used needles for sterile ones, and are designed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users. They are also an effective way to present addicts with information about drug treatment programs and other social services. 

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.

The Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati has been an integral part of substance abuse prevention in Greater Cincinnati since its founding in 1996. While the organization will continue its work, it recently expanded its mission to promote substance abuse prevention as a lifetime choice. To help better identify its new focus, Coalition for a Drug-Free Greater Cincinnati also recently changed its name, to PreventionFIRST!. Here to discuss the changes are PreventionFIRST! President and CEO Mary Haag and Board of Trustee Members Larry Williams and Melinda Brown. Larry Williams is retired vice-president for Talbert House, and Melinda Brown is with Stayin'’ Alive, a PreventionFIRST! coalition member.

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The Coalition for a Drug Free Greater Cincinnati has a new name.  Prevention First isn't as much of a mouthful, according to executive director Mary Haag.

“And that’s part of the point.  We felt like people didn’t truly understand who we are and what we do,” she said.

“We are still the go-to experts for substance abuse prevention," said Haag.  "But to be clear, some people would sometimes be confused.  Is it treatment, recovery support?  All of the other components that make up that issue.”