Hope Over Heroin Rally Held In Wake of Cincinnati Overdose Wave

Hope Over Heroin Rally Held In Wake of Cincinnati Overdose Wave

By McCarton Ackerman 08/30/16

The community event was planned months ahead of the overdose wave which resulted in 174 suspected overdoses and three deaths. 

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Hope Over Heroin Rally Held In Wake of Cincinnati Overdose Wave
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As a record number of heroin overdoses has hit Ohio and neighboring states this past week, Cincinnati area residents gathered for two anti-heroin rallies to raise awareness of the crisis.

Local news outlet WLWT reported that rally organizers in Hamilton marched along the High Street Bridge on Saturday. “It's sold very cheap. And it's done to destroy kids," said Ed Bannon, an organizer of the Hamilton rally. "It's destroying families. And the bottom line is we're just all coming together and trying to take our city back." 

Meanwhile, the town of Norwood held a two-day Hope Over Heroin rally that began with a prayer march. They released 45 balloons into the air, one for each of the town’s residents who lost their life to heroin.

“It seemed like I could handle it and I could set it down and function. You figured out you couldn't ... and at a point in my life, I couldn't," said Scott Caraboolad, a motorcycle stunt rider at the Norwood rally and a recovering heroin addict. "If I said how beautiful it was you probably wouldn't believe it. But you're not hopeless. Nobody is hopeless. Just making some wrong decisions.”

In a scene that was morbidly apropos, marchers at the Norwood rally inadvertently walked past paramedics who were treating a man for a heroin overdose. Norwood police confirmed that the man was revived after being given two doses of Narcan.

Cincinnati is now dealing with a rash of heroin overdoses that Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram called “unprecedented.” Emergency rooms recorded 174 suspected heroin overdoses in the past two weeks, including 78 overdoses in a two-day stretch. At least three deaths have been reported.

Local police have suspected that the heroin in this deadly batch may have been contaminated with carfentanil, a drug that is 100,000 times stronger than morphine and used to sedate large animals like elephants. Because of the mixture's high potency, those treating overdose victims with Narcan haven’t had the same success as they would with untainted heroin.

In response to the crisis, Hamilton County has launched a heroin response team that will provide treatment to addicts instead of punishment. Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan, head of the county's Heroin Task Force, said a similar program in nearby Colerain Township has led to a 35% drop in heroin overdoses in the past year.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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