According to the Ohio Department of Health, heroin use has reached epidemic proportions in Cuyahoga County. On Monday, April 21 County Executive Ed Fitzgerald will announce a new initiative to tackle the deadly drug head on.
Last year 195 people died from heroin overdoses in Cuyahoga County. That number is most likely on track to be shattered this year. Fitzgerald will also be releasing first quarter numbers for 2014 on Monday.
24-year-old Patrick Silbitzer was one of those statistics on Nov 18, 2009 when he overdosed on heroin.
19 Action News reporter Dawn Kendrick met his mother, Janice Messer, for a story more than two years ago. Messer predicted then that this would be an epidemic that would be impossible to ignore.
"I did; and, I was right and the worst is still to come I do believe," Messer told 19 Action News on Friday, April 18. "They're everywhere. The addicts are everywhere."
Messer says she knows of 38 others from Garfield Heights and Cleveland alone who have overdosed on heroin and died since her son Patrick died less than five years ago.
Some were Pat's friends, she said, who were even at his funeral.
"It can happen to your kids, to your family. I'm telling you it doesn't discriminate, and once it gets ahold of you it's not going to let go."
On Friday Janice colored Easter eggs with her granddaughters at the kitchen table of their Cleveland home. On the counter…a sign of the stark contrast that Janice lives everyday.
Bright eggs for the grandkids she loves. Easter flowers to take to the grave of the son her heart pines for nearly five years after he died. She'll be graveside with them on Saturday, as she has been all along several times a week since November 18, 2009, because of the gut wrenching hole heroin left.
"Sure. Everyday. Everyday," she says.
Just imagine this story hundreds or thousands of times over. Officials clearly have their work cut out for them.
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