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Deadly new drugs arrive

As we step back from the sense of urgency with which we had been discussing the COVID-19 pandemic, an old plague is back in the spotlight. The substance abuse epidemic in our region has haunted us all this time, but a frightening new poison has made its way into the Buckeye State.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says “Frankenstein Opioids” — Nitazenes — are here, and are more than 40 times more lethal than fentanyl. It’s a problem for everyone, not just users.

“Several police officers who just touched a little fentanyl immediately fell out, overdosed and were rushed to the hospital,” Yost said. “I’m worried about that not only happening to law enforcement but also members of the public.”

Yost reported opioid overdoses and deaths are as high as they have ever been, not just here in Ohio, but across the country, with a record 107,000 deaths reported in 2021.

“It’s getting more dangerous out there,” he said.

What is troubling is there seems to be no end in sight.

A law enforcement approach can be only part of the effort. Lawmakers must partner with economic development experts, mental health professionals, education leaders, religious communities … everyone, really, to set in motion that rising tide we know will lift all boats.

Without financial stability, mental health resources, and affordable relevant education opportunities and community support structures, vulnerable people will never have the hope they need to beat their addictions or avoid slipping into them in the first place.

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