The Valley's heroin epidemic - Part #3 The Summit - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

The Valley's heroin epidemic - Part #3 The Summit

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CLEVELAND, Ohio - The growing heroin epidemic has the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District and the Cleveland Clinic mobilizing hundreds to devise a plan of action.

The first ever Heroin Summit was a day long event held at the InterContinental Hotel on the Cleveland Clinic's main campus.

In our continuing coverage of the heroin epidemic, 21 News traveled to Cleveland to see how the U.S. Attorney and others plan to combat the problem.

"Deaths due to heroin overdose in northeast Ohio are up a staggering 400-percent," said Steven Dettelbach, the U.S. Attorney representing the Northern Ohio District.

Lorain County had 23 overdoses in one week, and Cuyahoga County had as many as six overdose deaths over weekend, four deaths have been confirmed.

The Heroin Summit convened in Cleveland was to address what is not just an urban problem, but a suburban one, and what's also being called a public health emergency.

Ed Fitzgerald, the Cuyahoga County Supervisor, told reporters, "There is no such thing as a safe dose, or a casual use of heroin. Somebody's first interaction with this drug could very well be their last. There is no drug out there on the street right now, that is more addictive, or more deadly than heroin."

In an unprecedented effort, at least 700 people, including law enforcement officers, treatment professionals and others came together to divide into specialized groups and develop a community wide action plan to fight the growing addiction problem.

Cleveland Clinic hosted the event along with the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the hospital's President and CEO said, they've already started cracking down on physicians. Because as we've reported, roughly 70-percent of heroin addicts are first hooked on prescription pain pills.

Dr. Toby Cosgrove, the CEO and President of the Cleveland Clinic said, "We found some substantial concerns, and we have eliminated those physicians and reported them."

Among the things being discussed at the summit, a program to revive overdose victims. It's already working in both Loraine County and Cuyahoga County.

Cuyahoga's program is called Project Dawn and it allows the program, run by MetroHealth, to teach addicts and their families how to spot an overdose, and what to do in case of one. That includes calling 911, and administering a drug in the form of a nasal mist known as Naloxone.

Dr. Joan Papp, the Medical Director for MetroHealth and director for Project Dawn, says in Cuyahoga County they know of at least 15 lives that have been saved.

Mahoning County's Assistant Prosecutor, working with the Drug Task Force, says building these partnerships could save lives.

"The heroin epidemic is something I've been telling people for two years now. I've been telling people this is here, it's real, it's an epidemic. I think everyone was kind of feeling the same way, and it's nice to know that everyone is coming together, sharing their stories, talking about it, thinking of ways to solve this issue, to attack this issue. I think it's important, knowledge is power," Desmond said.

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