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Published: Sunday, 7/6/2014 - Updated: 3 weeks ago

More potent drug use climbs in Sylvania Township

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sylvania Township Police Chief Robert Boehme and Sylvania Police Chief William Rhodus. Sylvania Township Police Chief Robert Boehme and Sylvania Police Chief William Rhodus.
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More than half of this year‘s drug cases handled by Sylvania Township involve narcotics, and such hard-core drug ‍cases in the township doubled last year from the year before.

Mostly, township Police Chief Robert Boehme said, the cases have involved heroin and prescription drugs. Marijuana, much to the chief‘s surprise, are not an overwhelming majority of the drug abuse cases in the community.

Very rarely is it cocaine,” he said. “Heroin seems to be the drug of choice, along with prescription drugs.”

It demonstrates that heroin and prescription drug abuse cases is not confined to Toledo.

Hot spots for drug purchases are usually big-box store parking lots, such as the Walmart and Meijer on Central Avenue.

“There are a lot of people around and you tend to fit in, as opposed to buying on the street,” he said.

There have been 14 cases reported this year for narcotics and other hard-core drugs and 12 for marijuana in the township. Last year, there were 24 narcotic and 34 marijuana cases and the year before there were 11 narcotic and 21 marijuana cases.

Sylvania police say they have relatively few drug abuse cases.

Bill Geha, Sylvania Schools prevention services coordinator, said much of the Toledo area is supplied with drugs from Mexican cartels, which often transport the illegal substances on vehicles on I-75.

Chief Boehme reported eight overdose cases in the township last year and three so far this year. Most were the result of heroin or prescription drug users, although not every case results in death, he said.

In Sylvania, Police Chief William Rhodus reported that a 23-year-old man, a recovering heroin addict, died from an apparent overdoes, although the coroner has not yet confirmed the cause of death. The resident was found at his home in the basement. where a syringe and other signs of heroin use were found.

The chief said the city had no overdose cases reported last year. So far this year, it has one drug abuse case involving prescription drugs. Last year, the city had four prescription drug cases and one heroin case, compared with one heroin and cocaine case and six prescription drug cases the year before. Marijuana cases were 58 last year, down from 73 the year before, the chief said.

Katie Osburn, 22, who recently moved to Sylvania from Pemberville, survived a heroin overdose. Her drug supply came from dealers on Airport Highway or Heatherdowns Boulevard. She said she snorted cocaine and synthetic methadone or bath salts before a friend introduced her to heroin. She hit rock bottom a week before Thanksgiving.

Twenty dollars of heroin nearly bought her death, she said. Her grandmother, a nurse, found her on the bed, blue in the face, with her mouth and lungs filled with blood because she had bitten down on her cheeks. Ms. Osburn does not remember any of it. Now, she is gaining strength through the Sylvania-based Racing for Recovery drug treatment program.

She said she thought “I would never” put a needle in her arm, but when snorting heroin was not enough, the curiosity of what is was like to “shoot it” took over. She said after overcoming the physical addiction, there is the mental and emotional attachments to battle.

Todd Crandell, founder of Racing for Recovery and a licensed chemical dependency counselor, said the formula used for prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin and Percocet, changed so “you can’t crush or snort it,” making heroin popular again. Plus, heroin is cheaper. He has counseled area high school students, including in Sylvania.

Mr. Geha, of Sylvania Schools, said date he has counseled four students this year addicted to heroin. He said children sometimes start using marijuana and then advance to more potent drugs. Ms. Osburn, for example, said she started smoking marijuana at age 11.

Another cause for the illegal drug use, Mr. Geha said, stems from doctors prescribing pain killers for legitmate reasons, but then the user becomes addicted and the usage spins “out of control.”

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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