Ohio County Drowning in Waves of Oxy

Overdoses now leading cause of accidental death in Scioto County
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2011 10:27 AM CDT
In this Nov. 12, 2010 file photo, Lisa Roberts, a public health nurse, stands by a storefront in Portsmouth, Ohio. Nearly one in 10 babies were born addicted to drugs last year in Scioto County.   (AP Photo/David Kohl, File)
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(Newser) – Scioto County sits in the southern tip of Ohio, an unremarkable piece of Appalachia save for the deadly tidal wave of prescription drugs washing over its population. Overdoses have quadrupled over the past decade, reports the New York Times, and are now the leading cause of accidental death, ahead of even car crashes. One in 10 babies born here tests positive for drugs; the most popular among the area's addicts is OxyContin. “It was moving so fast that families were caught totally off guard," says a counselor. "They had no idea what they were dealing with.”

There are small pockets of success, notes the Times: Moms of dead kids protest clinics they believe improperly dole out prescriptions; cops have busted a rogue doctor after raiding his office; and Portsmouth's city council has banned new clinics. But the drugs are legal, making it tricky to prosecute those who sell them. “You drive down the road here, and you think, ‘All these nice houses, no one’s doing any of that stuff,’” says the mother of two former addicts, one sober, one dead. Her 29-year-old daughter was shot and killed by another addict—as her 8-year-old daughter watched. “But they are. Oh, they are.”

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