MOUNT VERNON — It’s not unusual for drug overdoses by celebrities to dominate headlines, while local deaths resulting from the use of illicit drugs — or the combination of legal drugs — often goes unnoticed. In partnership with Drug Prevention Awareness Month in Knox County, the News has examined drug use in the county with topics ranging from the number of deaths from overdoses, suspected overdoses, law enforcement investigations, popular drugs of choice, criminal charges and personal stories of those who have battled the ugly grasps of addiction.

County’s drug culture coming into focus — According to Knox County Coroner Dr. Jennifer Ogle, there were 10 drug-related fatalities in Knox County during 2013. This included use of street drugs, prescription drugs and even a combination of alcohol and over-the-counter drugs. Ogle told the News that drug use in the county is on the rise and becomes more alarming every day.

Life saving drug reverses effects of opiates — Fire departments all over Knox County continue to respond to 911 calls on suspected drug overdoses. Earlier this year the Ohio Legislature passed a bill that will allow more EMS personnel (and law enforcement) to administer Narcan, a drug that reverses the physical and psychological effects of opiates. The drug can literally mean the difference between life and death. This article includes the number of transports made by some local fire departments on suspected overdoses as well as numbers from KCH.

KSAAT creates awareness, provides solutions to drug problem — One group that has been working largely behind the scenes in Knox County to combat the substance abuse issues in Knox County is KSAAT — Knox Substance Abuse Action Team. This group has worked diligently to eliminate the misuse of prescription pills and has been successful in taking over 1,000 pounds of pills out of homes in Knox County in the last two years.

It takes a community to eliminate street drugs — Detective James DeChant, Mount Vernon Police Department, and Knox County Sheriff Dave Shaffer address the idea that law enforcement will always need information from the public to help fill in the pieces of their investigation puzzle. They also describe how illicit drugs like heroin make it into Knox County and how programs are being developed to bring drug/alcohol counseling to the Knox County Jail inmates.

Nearly all felony cases have some drug connection — Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher details the felony indictments from 2013 that have direct connections with drugs. From drug possession, trafficking and manufacturing, to thefts and check forgery, Thatcher believes the mission to consume, sell or acquire drugs is the greatest motivation for crime in Knox County.

KCH’s New Vision offers first step to brighter future — Since its opening in October, the New Vision center at Knox Community Hospital has been helping drug/alcohol addicts overcome the withdrawal symptoms after deciding to kick the habit.

Drug court successful in rehabilitating youth, parents — The drug court program, a partnership between the Knox County Juvenile Court and The Freedom Center, has been a successful program to help the youth of Knox County overcome issues with drug and alcohol use.

Jane’s addiction: A non-user living a drug addict’s life — Jane Galbraith lost her 31-year-old son to a heroin overdose. She talks to the News about her denial, signs she missed and how she would like to do more to stop the use of drugs.

Struggling parent finds comfort, hope in local program — Michele Flack understood where her son was coming from when he developed a problem with substance abuse. A recovering addict herself, she stood by her son and hopes their story will help other families in similar situations.

Foreman takes control of heroin addiction; counsels others — Kristina Foreman has gone from heroin addict to a licensed independent chemical dependency counselor. The road has been long and uneven but her story is one of strength, perseverance and inspiration.

Daughter’s addiction open woman’s eyes to growing need — Anne Hughes saw her daughter’s struggles when trying to stay clean after being released from rehabilitation centers. The importance making it through a half-way house program is critical to remaining clean and sober after intensive rehab. To help other families, Hughes is opening a half-way house here in Knox County.

Drug addiction takes its toll on foster care system — For Wendy Busenburg, the last foster care placement she had was, in many ways, the most difficult.

New resource for children of drug abusers — The Freedom Center, a white Greek Revival on East Gambier Street, has long been known for helping treat adults who are addicted to alcohol or drugs. Now, a new roster has been added to the center’s counseling list: the children of addicts.

Children: The victims of addiction — There was the time she ate an entire bottle of ketchup because there was no other food in the house.

Class assignment illustrates pain caused by drugs — This spring, Kyla Rutan, 14, took to the front of her health class for an assignment in which students were asked to write letters to raise awareness of drug abuse. They were often fictitious. Kyla’s was not.

Drugs, alcohol affect work productivity — Staggering statistics about drug addictions plus hope for local assistance with the epidemic were shared Wednesday morning in a monthly meeting with the Knox County Safety Council at the Ohio Eastern Star’s Glen Gallagher Centre.

Drug abuse: A sobering reality in county — The sobering reality of drug abuse in Knox County was shared Thursday evening at St. Luke Community Center in Danville. “The Road To Addiction: Finding a Way Back Home.”

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