Addicts answer prosecutor's call to help fight drug epidemic in Butler County

HAMILTON, Ohio - When Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser reached out to addicts to help him develop a strategy to fight the drug epidemic, he was hoping for a few dozen calls.

At last count, there were 125.

One of those addicts said it was a turning point in her life.

"He wanted to know what makes me an addict," said 51-year-old Katrina Clemmons.

The Ross woman told Gmoser her story – about growing up in an abusive household and then losing the sister who protected her, to a car accident that had her searching for the wrong answers at age 14.

"I did my first pill. It was a 5mg Valium. From that day to this one, I fight this addiction," Clemmons said.

Gmoser said the flood of drug crimes has reached critical mass in his office.

He said 85 percent of his cases have "some drug involvement."

COMPLETE COVERAGE: The heroin epidemic in the Tri-State

The number of heroin deaths is overwhelming:  latest figures from the Ohio Department of Health say there were 33 deaths from heroin overdoses in Butler County in 2012.

You can't even call it "drug abuse" anymore, Gmoser said. Heroin's destruction has far outgrown that term.

"Drug abuse is when you've taken too many aspirin for your headache. This is drug suicide," he said.

So Gmoser decided to take matters into his own hands -- reaching out to those at the other end of the needle.

After listening to Clemmons and other addicts, he says he better understands the origins of the problem.

Gmoser plans to direct prevention efforts toward those at risk of picking up the habit.

At the top on that list: the children of addicts.
"If this is an epidemic, and he's living with those kids, there's a very high likelihood that those children are being exposed to this drug problem. She was."

Clemmons said being part of Gmoser's effort is also helping her as she tries to reclaim her life.

“For me, helping the drug addict, I get to stay clean," she said. "I get to get clean and stay clean and be clean. Because I’m not so caught up in Katrina, and I’m not caught up in the drug addiction, I’m caught up in helping you.”

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