In Ohio, fatal drug overdoses more than quadrupled in the last decade, and by 2007 had surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths, says the New York Times. The problem is so severe that Gov. John Kasich announced $36 million in new spending on it this month, an unusual step in an era of budget austerity. Drug addiction is killing more people than crack cocaine in the 1980s and heroin in the 1970s combined.
“We're raising third and fourth generations of prescription drug abusers now,” said Chief Charles Horner of the Portsmouth, Oh., police, who notes that more people died from overdoses in Ohio in 2008 and 2009 than in the World Trade Center attack in 2001. “We should all be outraged,” Horner said. “It should be a No. 1 priority.”He believes the problem will continue to fester without a coordinated effort by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In Portsmouth’s Scioto County, a coroner and a pharmacist are among its state lawmakers, and a bill in the state legislature would more strictly regulate pain clinics where drugs are dispensed. The most popular drug among addicts is the painkiller OxyContin.