Heroin Abuse in Ohio

Heroin is a highly addictive and very dangerous drug processed from morphine. Morphine is processed from poppy plant seeds. It is sold in powder form (white or brown) or as a black sticky substance known as "black tar". Most street heroin is not pure. It is diluted or "cut" with powdered milk, sugar, or starch.

In the past 5 years, our firm has seen a dramatic and disturbing increase in heroin users that don't fit the "junkie" stereotype. These are white, suburban, teens and young adults in their twenties. Most of our current and former heroin using clients come from solid homes, educated parents, and some degree of affluence. More often than not, parents are absolutely in the dark about their child's heroin use.

Distribution is increasing in central Ohio. Heroin is shipped into Ohio from major U.S. cities such as Detroit, New York, Chicago, and the obvious border cities. Interstates 70, 75, and 71 are common pipelines.

Treatment admissions for heroin use is spiking in Ohio. Without a doubt, heroin is emerging in our suburbs, high schools, and colleges. Heroin can be injected and these users may inject up to 6 times a day. Snorting or smoking heroin is also popular with users. The onset of heroin highs are within 15 minutes when snorted or smoked versus 5-8 minutes when injected.

How can you tell if your son or daughter is high on heroin? Watch out for lethargy, drowsiness, itching, euphoria, nausea, slowed breathing, blue lips, restlessness, decreased appetite, and going back and forth between feeling alert and drowsy.

How can you tell if your son or daughter is using heroin? There are tell tale behavioral indicators such as loss of enthusiasm, increased isolation from family, friends, and activities, a change in peer group when you no longer know your child's current friends, decreased grades, stealing, deception, lying, and manipulation.

CASE EXAMPLE: Mr. Koffel is currently representing a gifted young man who became addicted to black tar heroin. As a result of his addiction, he stole for cash to buy more heroin. Eventually, he allegedly robbed a local ice cream store and two coffee shops. He is facing 10 robbery counts and many years behind bars. Mr. Koffel is confident that if the client gets appropriate treatment, he will be a candidate for a substantially reduced sentence.

CASE EXAMPLE: Mr. Koffel's client was an Ohio Wesleyan student who wound up getting addicted to black tar heroin. His dad is a retired from the Secret Service and his mother is a 3rd grade teacher in Virginia. The client's addiction was so bad that he brandished a knife and robbed five (5) businesses in Ohio in 2010. Facing 15-50 years in prison if convicted, he will serve just 5 years for the robberies.

CASE EXAMPLE: In a "shoplifting gone bad" case, Mr. Koffel's young client, an addict to heroin, shoplifted $250 worth of goods from a Walmart. After being confronted by Loss Prevention, a struggle ensued. Because one of the Loss Prevention guys claimed he was injured, the case was upgraded from a misdemeanor theft to a 2nd degree felony robbery (2-8 years in prison). The case was eventually worked down to a 3rd degree felony with probation after the client self-referred to a leading rehabilitation center.


Addiction is a disease. People who are addicted have a chronic problem, and an ongoing need to use the substance they are addicted to. Addiction is a compulsion to return to the substance again and again, each time building up a tolerance to the substance. The more a substance is used, the more of that substance it takes to achieve the desired effect.


Some people struggling with addiction can experience the symptoms of withdrawal within a few hours after their last use. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, and depend largely on what they are addicted to, how long they have been addicted, and how much they use. Some symptoms include cravings, restlessness, spasms, vomiting, and cold flashes.

Treatment in options in Ohio are limited. We can certainly point a family in the right direction for treatment centers at a national, regional, and local level. But, if you suspect your son or daughter is using heroin, waiting for proof may be in the form of an overdose and death.