COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A drug epidemic is sweeping across Ohio, one that is not sparing any county. In the last several years, 1,100 people died from fentanyl overdoses and more than 2,000 from heroin and opioids.
Ohio Governor John Kasich just signed into law a bill which limits the ease for addicts acquiring painkiller from medical prescribers.
A recovering addict NBC4 talked with spoke about what he and others are doing to help other addicts try to recover.
53-year-old William ‘Jody’ Cole of Mansfield use to own a car dealership and a home Years ago he followed his tow truck driver to Florida for a three-day binge, and said his life changed.
“I have tried heroin, cocaine, bath salts, I have tried a little bit of everything–crystal meth,” said Cole.
Cole said he ended up in a very dark place.
“It got to the point I would get up, shiver and shake, couldn’t motivate myself, then it got to the point I was going broke, losing my business, lost my home, lost everything I had,” Cole said.
He said after 42 friends and family, including his fiancée and brother-in-law, all died from drug overdoses he knew he had to change his life or die.
“I actually gave my life to the Lord, he changed my life around,” said Cole.
In stepped Stan Rust with the Starfish Project, a faith-based portal for drug treatment.
“Our son was a drug user (and) dealer 10 years ago, who survived and went to prison,” said Rust.
Rust, like Cole, said at the time they had no one to turn to.
“You just feel horrible and hopeless, don’t have anybody to help and we didn’t want others to go through that, so we don’t just help the addict, we help the family,” said Rust.
Cole said opioid drugs are driving the heroin problem.
“90 percent of the people I know around Mansfield said their heroin addict started from opioids,” said Cole.
He said addicts also need help paying for medical treatment once they chose recovery because this new drug law will help, but it is not the only answer.
“I know 65-year-old people using heroin because they can’t get a pain pill,” Cole said.
Ohio Senate Bill 319 sponsors said over the last several years, 36 percent of drug thefts were traced back to pharmacy technicians. SB 319 adds stricter oversight along with background checks for anyone dispensing painkillers, and more regulations for doctors, veterinarians and dentists prescribing opioids.
It also makes Narcan more readily available and limits Suboxone’s use; some call it a replacement drug for addicts.
“I am a living example of what can be done,” Cole said.
Starfish Project is privately funded, and Cole said he’d like to see the state and federal government step up with more help paying for addicts who chose to recover.