Wednesday February 24, 2016

Cincinnati Enquirer assigns full-time reporter to heroin beat

A man injects himself with heroin in this file photo.

A man injects himself with heroin in this file photo. (David Ryder/REUTERS)

Listen 6:30

The Cincinnati Enquirer has assigned reporter Terry DeMio a new beat. She is the newspaper's first heroin reporter.

 "People felt they had to find something, they were already addicted, so they turned to heroin." - Terry DeMio

"We have a huge problem with heroin here in greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky," DeMio tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "I spoke to a doctor in 2012 who said heroin is an epidemic, a third of his patients were affected by it."

DeMio describes her beat as covering the personal issues and infectious diseases related to the heroin problem. She says the profile of heroin users being from minority groups in the inner city has changed, "most of our users are young adults, white, low to middle income people ... in our suburbs."

She'll also be looking at breaking down the stigma of using medication like methadone in addiction recovery.


Terry DeMio is the new heroin reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. (

"People think that folks who are heroin addicted and opioid addicted should simply quit. The medical community knows often medication is needed [to control withdrawal symptoms]."

DeMio says the drug problem started with doctors and pain clinics heavily prescribing opioids for pain treatment. There was a crackdown on the clinics and on the prescribing of opioids which left people with few legal options. 

"People felt they had to find something'" she says. "They were already addicted, so they turned to heroin."

drug map

Statistically significant drug overdose death rate increase from 2013 to 2014, US States (CDC)

"We have [people] picking up needles off of suburban grocery store parking lots. The fear is someone is going to get stuck with a needle and get hepatitis C, which is spreading greatly throughout our community," says DeMio.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio has the nation's second highest rate of opioid and heroin overdose deaths in the country. Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2000.