Heroin Overdoses In Ohio Double, AG Creates New Unit To Fight Problem

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Attorney General Mike DeWine says heroin is cheap, readily available and highly addictive.  And that is, according to one families experience, a recipe for destruction and death.

Heidi Riggs, and her husband T.J., carry with them pictures of their daughter Marin.  She was a basketball player and captain of her golf team.

Marin graduated from Pickerington Central High School in 2010 and was looking forward to college.

"What was frustrating and sad was to see her sit and cry because she wanted to make it," said Heidi.

The Riggs, talking to 10TVs Jim Heath, say they were devastated when they learned their daughter had developed a serious addiction to heroin.

"You're fighting a losing battle," said T.J. Riggs.  "If the child is going that direction, if things are going wrong and you don't pick up on them, you're in for a death sentence."

Heidi Riggs offered emotional testimony Monday at a press conference organized by DeWine.

It was the first time the Riggs, describing themselves as the "everyday middle class family," had spoken publicly about their daughters struggle with heroin.

DeWine says eleven Ohioans die each week because of a heroin overdose.

"We are today creating a heroin unit in the Attorney General's office," said DeWine.  "These new efforts to fight heroin will not be the full solution to Ohio's heroin problem, but by providing what services we can, we hope to save lives and prevent addiction."

DeWine says his office will allocate a million dollars a year to fund a heroin unit that will include agents, investigators, an organized crime unit and greater community outreach.

According to statistics, in 2012 there were 606 heroin overdose deaths in Ohio, double from 2010.

State officials believe much of the black tar heroin is being supplied by Mexican drug cartels.

And it's being delivered to suburbs, not cities according to DeWine who calls it a "game-changer."  In fact, he says in some suburbs heroin could be easier for kids to get than beer.

For Marin, after two stints in rehab over the course of a year, she lost her battle with heroin addiction in January, 2012 at the age of 20.

"You're life changes," said Heidi Riggs. "We've changed. Our family has changed.  How we look at life has changed, and you still have to get up every day."