MASON, Ohio -- "2017 is not off to a good start," Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell wrote Tuesday afternoon on Facebook.
He was referring to the fact that 14 people had died from heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl overdoses in his county alone since the start of the new year.
The heroin epidemic that has devastated rural areas in the Midwest shows few signs of slowing down -- and the deadly rise of fentanyl and carfentanyl means that users increasingly run the risk of losing their lives before they are able to enter treatment.
"It's an overwhelming feeling to hear that there are so many people out there struggling with this addiction," said John Mallery, who supervises outpatient treatment at Lindner Center of HOPE's location in Mason. "The severity of the use and the overdose frequency now -- you can't get to people in time."
The majority of the center's 240 patients, Mallery said, come from Warren County. According to the county coroner’s office, 59 people died of opioid overdoses between January and October 2016 -- a troubling figure that 2017 is already on track to outpace.
"The risk is higher now because (heroin users) are chasing an even stronger high," Mallery said.