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Street Drug Addiction in Ohio

Illegal drug addiction in Ohio is a persistent problem that authorities are struggling to control. Each year statistics show a steady increase in the number of fatal overdoses in the state, as a result of abusing illegal street drugs.

A report released by the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network, says that illegal drug addiction in Ohio remains a severe problem, due to the ready availability of drugs in the region.

What is Street Drug Abuse?

Using any illegal street drug for recreational purposes, or taking drugs in order to get high or stoned, is considered drug abuse. Almost all illicit street drugs are addictive psychoactive substances that can cause significant changes in the brain’s chemistry.

Abusing any substance of addiction can lead to developing a tolerance, which means more of the drug is required to achieve the same effects that used to be reached with smaller amounts. Taking larger doses of any psychoactive drug, increases the risk of accidental overdose and death.

Statistics for Street Drug Abuse in Ohio

Statistics released by the Ohio Department of Health (1), showed that the number of deaths caused by accidental drug overdose, increased by 413% in the years from 1999 to 2013. In 2013, there were 2,110 unintentional drug overdoses in Ohio, which is 10.2% higher than the number of overdose deaths recorded in 2012 (2). It is also the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record for a period of 12 months.

In 2013, 46.6% of the unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio, were caused by heroin. 19.2% of the accidental overdose deaths in Ohio that same year, were caused by cocaine.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (3) also released findings that revealed heroin surpassed marijuana as being the predominant street drug problem in Cincinnati throughout the first half of 2013.

The Regional Enforcement Narcotics Unit reported that the amount of heroin seized on Cincinnati streets, had increased by 191% in 2013 from the previous year. The number of crystal methamphetamine and laboratory seizures also increased by 159% in 2013 from the previous year.

Commonly Abused Street Drugs


Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is predominantly abused as a recreational drug, in which the user is seeking an artificial sense of intense euphoria. It is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is illegal to manufacture, import, sell, or possess the drug without a specific license.

Heroin is a powerfully addictive opiate drug that triggers neurotransmitters in the brain to flood the body with dopamine. Continued use of heroin trains the brain to believe that it can no longer produce dopamine naturally, unless it has the artificial stimulation of heroin. The result of the brain’s altered chemistry, is severe withdrawal symptoms, including fierce cravings to take more of the drug.

Analysis of heroin purchased off the streets in Ohio, showed that purity levels vary broadly, ranging from 7.5%, up to 92.1%. It is common for heroin dealers to dilute or ‘cut’ the substance with other toxins, which reduces purity levels and introduces a range of unknown, and potentially toxic, substances into the user’s system. Illegal street heroin is commonly cut with substances that could include flour, quinine, talcum powder, chalk, caffeine, powdered milk, or starch.

Serious negative health effects of abusing heroin recreationally, include:

  • Severe physical and psychological dependence (addiction)
  • Poisoning from contaminants used to cut heroin
  • Abnormally slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
  • Slowed breathing rate (hypopnea)
  • Respiratory depression (hypoventilation)
  • Coma
  • Tolerance
  • Overdose


Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a powerful stimulant that is primarily used as a recreational drug. It is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Cocaine is commonly associated with being a white powder that is usually snorted in order for the user to get high. The crystalline form of cocaine, referred to as crack cocaine, is named for the popping or cracking sound the crystals make when they are heated to be smoked.

Powdered cocaine is often considered a wealthy man’s drug, due to the high cost. By comparison, crack cocaine crystals are sold at significantly cheaper prices, making it more easily affordable.

Crack is also far more potent than powdered cocaine. Smoking the drug reaches the brain faster than snorting the powder, which can increase the speed at which addiction develops. Users can become addicted after smoking crack the first time.

Cocaine is incredibly addictive because of the effect it has on the brain’s reward pathways, causing major imbalances of transmitter levels as the brain attempts to compensate for overstimulation.

Serious negative health effects of abusing cocaine include:

  • Severe psychological dependence (addiction)
  • Lung damage
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory problems
  • Significant damage to the heart, kidneys and liver
  • Brain damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Bizarre, erratic behavior
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Psychosis
  • Tolerance
  • Overdose

Crystal meth

Crystal meth is one form of the potent stimulant drug, methamphetamine, commonly available as a white crystalline substance. It is classified as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Even a single use of crystal meth can be enough to spark the cycle of addiction. The drug burns the body’s resources, creating a severe dependence that can only be relieved by taking more of the drug. Methamphetamine is a powerful neuro-toxin that causes damage to the brain’s dopamine neurotransmitters.

In low doses, the drug can increase energy levels and elevate mood. However, at higher doses, the drug is capable of inducing delusions, psychosis, violent behavior, and cerebral hemorrhage (bleeding to the brain).

Serious negative health effects of abusing crystal meth include:

  • Severe psychological dependence (addiction)
  • Memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart damage
  • Brain damage
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Bizarre, erratic behavior
  • Dysphoria (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Psychosis
  • Tolerance
  • Overdose

Signs and Symptoms of Street Drug Abuse

The actual signs and symptoms of street drug abuse will vary, depending on the substance being abused. However, there are some common signs to look for. These include:

  • Tolerance, or needing to take higher doses of the drug to experience the same effects
  • Taking drugs to stop withdrawal symptoms
  • Loss of control over drug use
  • Abandoning activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Life revolves around using, obtaining, or recovering from drug use
  • Continued use of drugs, despite negative consequences

Why Seek Treatment for Drug Abuse?

Many people mistakenly believe that overcoming addiction is simply a matter of willpower. As a result, many addicted individuals attempt to detox from street drugs at home, risking serious health complications that could potentially require emergency medical attention.

In reality, addiction is a complex chronic disease of the brain that should be treated with professional help. In order to overcome addiction to street drugs, professional rehab treatments need to address the significant changes that occurred in the brain due to drug abuse. Treatment may involve a combination of medically-assisted detox treatments, along with behavioral therapies to help correct dysfunctional behaviors associated with addictive drug use.

Seeking professional treatment for drug abuse, offers the best possible chance of a user regaining control of his or her life. Recovering from addiction is possible with the right treatments, therefore no one should attempt to fight drug addiction alone. If you or a loved one is battling a Illegal drug addiction, reach out to qualified addiction treatment centers in Ohio today to speak with a specialist.