Prescription drug overdoses: Cops, users battle increasing danger

Four people die in Ohio every day

HARRISON, Ohio - Did you know you are more likely to die of prescription drug abuse than a car crash in Ohio?

That's a startling new fact from experts meeting Thursday night to focus on solving a growing problem.

Four Ohioans die every day from prescription drug overdoses, Major John Burke of the Warren County Drug Strike Force says.

Burke calls that alarming -- as does a Harrison woman who nearly became a statistic.

As Maryanna Jackson met with counselor Jen Kockritz Thursday, you'd never know she nearly died from a drug overdose.

"It always happens to the person who says that will never happen to me, and I was that person," Jackson said.

Jackson is rehabbing at First Step Home in Walnut Hills and has been clean for five months.

"Before I was living a life of chaos.  It was dishonest," Jackson said.

"Now I'm very proud of myself.  I'm a very strong person."

That wasn't the case three years ago when Jackson says she began using pills like OxyContin.

"Everyone was doing it and I wanted to give it a try," Jackson said.

Major Burke says that began the era of pain management and pill mills.

"When you prescribe a certain amount of prescription drugs that are easily and readily abused, a certain percentage of those are going to be diverted."

Things drastically changed in 2010 when OxyContin was reformulated.

"If you can get a product that gets you just as high, it's 10 percent of the cost of the drug you had before (and)  you don't have to try to scam a doctor or a pharmacist, it becomes kind of a natural segue into heroin," Burke said.

Heroin was the next step for Jackson and injecting it almost killed her.

"There's no warning signs.  Your heart doesn't beat a certain way to tell you what happens,” Jackson said. “Somebody doesn't tap you on the shoulder.  It just happens."

Burke said enforcement, education and rehabilitation are needed to solve the problem.

Jackson has a more direct anti-drug approach.

"Don't do it,” Jackson said.  “You know.  It haunts you.  Everything just follows you.  It's not something that's simple that you can just pick up and put down."

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