Deaths from heroin overdoses have reached record levels in Ohio - and Jefferson and Belmont counties are in the thick of the epidemic.
From 2007-12, the latest year for which statistics were available, the heroin overdose death rate in Ohio was 13.9 per 100,000 residents, the state Department of Health reported this week.
But in Jefferson County, the rate was nearly twice that, at 25.4. And, while the Belmont County rate was below the state average, the problem there is increasing.
From 2007-12, 98 people died of heroin overdoses in Jefferson County, compared to 39 in Belmont County (Monroe County had three deaths, while Harrison recorded seven).
But while the number of Jefferson County overdose deaths dropped from 2011 to 2012, it went up in Belmont County.
There has been some good news from the health agency. If teenagers who answer questionnaires about their behavior are being honest, the number who have tried opiates, including heroin, has decreased substantially during the past few years.
Clearly, however, heroin remains a crisis in East Ohio - and it may be spreading. As we have pointed out previously, local law enforcement agencies need state and federal help to cope with the epidemic. Better treatment to help addicts get "clean" is essential.
Otherwise, heroin deaths will continue to increase in our area.