Monday, August 31, 2015

Increased opiate use leading to rise in prostitution in rural Ohio towns

A handful of rural towns in Ohio are facing an epidemic of drugs and prostitution, with the two going hand-in-hand in areas where opiate use among women is on the rise, Jona Ison reports for USA Today. Drug overdoses more than doubled in Chillicothe (Best Places map) from 2013 to 2014 and increased prostitution has led to six cases of women disappearing in the past year in the town of only 21,000 residents where "strapped police departments are seeking the best way to handle it."

In Zainesville, complaints of prostitution have risen 14 percent this year, with 66 percent of the 105 complaints coming since June, said police chief Ken Miller. Miller told Ison, “They’ve been known to hop in your vehicle at a red light. They’re desperate. They’re out trying to fuel their drug habit, most of them.”

Local police in Mansfield "surveyed a handful of women prostituting and discovered most had been doing it for less than a year and were using drugs, typically heroin," Ison writes. "Nearly half responded if they could stop using drugs, they would stop prostituting." One of the obstacles of kicking the habit is limited treatment options in rural areas.

"While new laws cracking down on pill mills led addicts to seek heroin, a law in 2012 making it harder to sell stolen metals may have encouraged rural prostitution," Ison writes. "As scrap metal dealers shifted to comply with the law, that’s when rural police started seeing women selling themselves on the street, said T.J. Hollis, commander of a task force investigating Chillicothe’s missing women cases." Hollis told Ison, "We started to hear about it from our partners all around the state. They were seeing the same things (prostitution), so I don’t think it was unique to us, but I think it became a symptom of what was going on with the addiction in Ohio and around the country.”

"According to a study of mortality in prostituted women tracked for 30 years in Colorado, women actively prostituting were 18 times more likely to be murdered than women their age who weren’t," Ison writes. "Their leading causes of death were homicide, overdoses and accidents." This story is part of series. Other stories focus on solutions and the Internet side of the problem.

No comments: