An elite Columbus narcotics unit busts a dope house in the city just about every night of the week, and heroin is a common find.
Investigators say drug dealers are doing a lucrative business in heroin sales to young people in the suburbs.
Myles Dawson was one of them. Dawson was a good student, golfer and quarter horse showman. He ended up on heroin after getting hooked at age 18 on painkillers prescribed for a lung infection.
“The doctors had cut me off all the pain medicine and I'm going thru withdrawals and the first thing I know to do is find more pain medicine from other people,” said Dawson.
But that got expensive, since an oxycontin is about $60 a pill on the street.
“So if I'm buying two oxycontins, that's $120, compared to buying one bag of heroin which is $10,” he explained.
For him, buying heroin was as simple as calling one of the drug dealers from Mexico that he got wind of in the area.
“You call them, tell them what you want. They tell you where to go, you drive, you follow them, you get out of the car. I mean they're just slick about it,” said Dawson.
Columbus Narcotics Squad Commander Gary Cameron said that makes busting the dealers hard. Cameron said it can take months to even get close to penetrating one of these dealer networks.
For one thing, there's a language barrier.
“And then the second barrier is, they may not even know where the drugs are coming from. Because somebody walked up to them and handed them a set of keys and a cell phone and "Go here, deliver this" and they don't know,” explained Cameron.
Cameron said police can't arrest their way out of this problem.
He's working with suburban parent groups to make they aware of what's going on right under their noses.
“We were clueless, we didn't know anything about addiction,” said parent Wayne Cambell.
Wayne Campbell's son, Tyler, was a standout high school and college football player . He died from a heroin overdose in the summer of 2011.
Like Myles Dawson, Tyler got hooked on heroin after getting addicted to pain-killers for a football injury.
“It's not bad parenting, poor parenting, lack of parenting,” said Wayne Campbell. “It’s just ‘not knowing.’”
He and a group of concerned residents in Pickerington used Tyler's tragedy to create Tyler's Light, a drug awareness program focused on the explosion of prescription drug addiction among young people.
His advice to parents is to know your kids, know who they're hanging out with and know what's in your own medicine cabinet.
“The prescription pain medication, 75 percent comes from your medicine cabinet,” he said.
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