Ohio's heroin epidemic: 'We can't arrest our way out of problem,' says attorney general

Ohio's heroin epidemic: 'We can't arrest our way out of problem,' says attorney general

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - At least 517 Ohio victims died in 2016 from heroin, fentanyl, or a combination of the two and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the problem "hasn't reached it's peak yet."

In 2015, eight people a day died in Ohio because of accidental overdoses from illicit and pharmaceutical drugs -- a 20.5 percent increase from 2014.

Last weekend in just Cleveland, more than a dozen opiate-related overdose situations were reported -- some of them fatal.

"I don't think we've hit the bottom yet," said DeWine. "I would not be honest if I said 'Mike DeWine is going to solve this problem ... we know we can't prevent all of this addiction, but we can change things."

The attorney general, who is likely running for Ohio governor but has not officially confirmed this, said the heroin problem is not one that law enforcement can arrest its way out of.

"We assist local law enforcement to get bigger drug dealers," he said. "We know we can't arrest everybody. We cannot arrest our way out of this problem."

Part of the change DeWine proposed is getting in front of the problem with early education starting in kindergarten.

"We should do something every single year in kindergarten through 12th grade that is age appropriate for a child in regard of prevention," he said. "We don't have a comprehensive program where we do something every single year. If we're serious about getting in front of this, that's what we have to do."

In Columbus Feb. 14, DeWine is hosting a nearly-all day event to talk about the opiate problem in Ohio.

It begins at 8 a.m. with registration and ends at 3:15 p.m. at Fellowship Baptist Church, 4701 Winchester Pike in Columbus. View the full agenda here.

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