Columbus police have arrested a woman in connection with a recent spike of heroin overdoses. The heroin epidemic has created a new method to drug trafficking- turning the user into the dealer. Often times, young people addicted to heroin are used by the real dealers to sell their street-level drugs. The result, is that the real dealers are insulated from police stings, and the addict is going to prison.
Police arrested 24-year-old Sara E. Eberhard and charged her with one count of heroin possession. The possession charge is a first-degree felony.
Police executed a search warrant at a residence in the 900 Block of E. 17th Avenue Thursday in association with overdoses in the Linden area that resulted in 48 people needing CPR and naloxone in recent weeks.
The police investigation continues.
It's believed the heroin that caused the spike was mixed with another opiate, but the potentially lethal substance hadn't been identified.
Officials from Columbus and Franklin County's health departments recently formed a rapid-response team of 10 agencies to streamline central Ohio's approach to battling the heroin epidemic. Members include emergency responders, hospital representatives, the Franklin County coroner's office and the County's Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health board.
They're urging heroin users to seek help for their addiction and to be cautious if they continue to use the drug, said Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Teresa Long. She suggested using smaller doses, not using alone and keeping naloxone close by.
Across the country, emergency responders have faced criticism for not arresting users and expending resources on overdose patients, including purchasing naloxone. But addiction is a complicated, chronic, relapsing brain disease that requires treatment, and reviving someone gives them a second chance at recovery, Long said.
Of the first 27 overdoses reported last week, nine were concentrated in the Linden area. The additional 21 cases that followed 24 hours later mostly were scattered throughout the city.
There were no deaths.
Drug overdoses claimed a record 3,050 lives in Ohio last year. More than one-third of them were from fentanyl, a potent opiate that often is mixed with heroin.
Those who need treatment should call 614-276-2273 or visit Columbus.gov/opiatecrisis.