(Toledo News Now) - Heroin use and its problems is becoming a growing epidemic in northwest Ohio. The problem is hidden to many in the community.
"I think a lot of people are blind to the fact that to what it really is," said an addict.
Perrysburg Township Sgt. Gross said the epidemic is the number one problem for the department right now.
"Well, I think law enforcement has already realized that heroin is problem here, it's people that don't see it and don't think that it could happen there; They don't think that it could happen with their kids, or their brother or sister or whatever it may be," Sgt. Gross.
According to a government study, heroin use among teenagers is up 80 percent in the last 10 years. The addicts we spoke to are teenagers.
"I went to Catholic grade school, K through 8. Then I went to Central Catholic and then I went to Start High School," said an addict.
Jeff Streeter is a chemical dependency counselor in Toledo. Streeter said teenagers are walking through his doors more frequently than ever.
"We want to make sure people are aware and their eyes are open. Instead of just with the blinders on, and not focusing on what's going on around them," said Streeter.
The Toledo Police Department said they seized about $400,000 worth of heroin in 2011. This year, just through August, they have sized $1.36 million.
The Lucas County Coroner said last year they had 47 deaths because of heroin and opiates . This year they have already seen 32 cases through June. That is an increase of 36 percent.
The Wood County Sheriff's Department said they have made 24 arrests for opiates and heroin through August of this year. They made only 23 in all of 2011.
The drug is so powerful that people will do anything to get money to get drugs. Police say heroine is causing crime that hits innocent victims.
Sgt. Gross said there is an increase in property crime because of heroin in Perrysburg Township. The increase is even larger than the increase due to crack cocaine years ago.
"The last dozen or so retail theft people that we've arrested, probably 70 percent of those people are addicted to heroin, it's just an ongoing cycle that doesn't seem to be coming to an end any time soon," said Gross.
Law enforcement is trying to stop the cycle, but agree it will require help. People in the area must realize there is a problem, try to deal with the problem and help those already in the clutches of this drug.