Orange County Agencies Come Together to Combat Opiate Abuse

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The people who lock-up drug dealers and the people who save lives of drug abusers are partnering in Orange County on a campaign to stop a killer. They are launching a campaign to raise awareness about an influx of drugs that are killing more people than car crashes.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Orange County Department of Fire and EMS are working together to develop a public service project warning of the deadly dangers of opiate abuse. Opiates range from prescription pain killers such as oxycodone and morphine, to heroin.

Deaths from opiate overdoses, especially heroin, have doubled in the past two years. The Orange County Sheriff's Office attributes three deaths to opiates this year alone. In the past two years, the drugs have killed more people than car crashes in Orange County.

“There are a lot of drugs we see here, but heroin is the deadly drug we're dealing with right now,” said Orange County Sheriff Mark Amos.

Sheriff Amos attributes as many as a dozen deaths over the last two years to opiate overdoses - especially from heroin. He believes heroin is coming down the highway from Baltimore and Washington D.C., into Orange County. Once it's here, his office is seeing a range of users from 16 to 60 years old.

“I have been in this office since June of 1987. I had never seen heroin until about two years ago,” he stated.

Sheriff Amos promises law enforcement but the county's campaign focuses on education - starting with a public service announcement shared on social media. “We will do what enforcement is necessary to stop what we can stop. On the other hand, we need to get the education out there to make people aware of the dangers of it," he stated.

Orange County Fire and EMS Assistant Chief Tom Joyce put together a video to show at the start of presentations to community groups and Orange County High School students.  “The purpose is to show the opportunities normally afforded to everybody are not happening for you if you're an opiate, heroin user it's universally fatal,” he said.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office and emergency responders are taking a direct, raw approach to send a message that's more than numbers. “This is not a statistical blip. This is the real deal. People are dying from this. It has a huge effect on society,” Joyce stated.

Sheriff's investigators directly connect opiates to crimes including thefts, robberies, and assaults.

The awareness campaign is getting started in the schools. The Blue Ridge Narcotics Task Force gave a presentation about heroin abuse to Orange County teachers this week.

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