Heroin is still afflicting many people throughout Van Wert County. Once again this year the vast majority of court cases have something to do with heroin. Pictured is resident Johnny Murphy who spoke with the Times Bulletin this year about his struggles with heroin addiction. (TB File Photo)
As we move from 2013 to 2014, we take time to look back at the top stories of the past year. Van Wert County saw events that were controversial, positive, terrifying, and disappointing during the 12 months. It certainly was not a boring year, and the candidates for the top ten stories of the year were widely varied. Choosing the top stories is never easy since one story will affect people quite differently, and some stories which generate little interest from the public actually have great impact on everyone. So the rankings are subjective, based on both community discussion and overall impact on the people of Van Wert County. We finish up today with stories three through one.
Over the past few years, heroin has become the drug of choice in Van Wert County, targeting all age groups and ruining lives. Chosen by many for giving “more bang for the buck” the drug is taking ownership of many in the county, and its hold on people is blamed for thefts, break-ins, and many other crimes. The latest statistics from Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas show that of 165 different criminal cases filed, 67 of them directly involved drug possession or trafficking charges. There is no count of how many theft or other crimes were committed in an attempt to raise money to buy heroin. Where other counties seem to be more affected by the use of methamphetamines or the abuse of prescription medications, heroin has become the focus of most in this area.
The reason for the switch from other drugs to heroin is cost, availability and strength. A seemingly endless supply stream of heroin from the Dayton area has kept the drug easily available and relatively cheap while the drug itself is stronger than the prescription painkillers which once dominated cases on the court dockets. On top of that, a heroin habit is extremely difficult to quit. On Dec. 9, 2013, the Times Bulletin featured a Getting To Know interview with a former heroin addict who was only months into his life without the drug. His story was one of struggle before finally getting the help he needed and quitting for the right reasons.
The fact is, no other crime even comes close to the number of cases filed due to heroin use and addiction. Without the cases caused by people using this drug, the court system in this county would be rarely used. But at this point, the heroin issues do not look to be slowing down despite the efforts of law enforcement and rehabilitation professionals. That could mean continued crimes locally caused by those addicted to this dangerous drug.