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Pleading for caution: Recovering addict who survived overdoses shares story amid rising concerns in Ohio

With Northeast Ohio overdoses on the rise, state officials are warning 'dangerous' counterfeit prescription tablets containing fentanyl have been found.

CLEVELAND — There is a plea for caution about the use of drugs and counterfeit drugs at both the local and state level.

Cuyahoga County issued a public health alert after eight suspected drug overdoses occurred on Thursday. Just 24 hours later, the state of Ohio issued a warning of its own after discovering deadly counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl.

"I got addicted to the drug," Curtis Schneider, a recovering addict, told 3News. "You know, pills at first, and then heroine."

Schneider calls the ability to be sharing his journey to sobriety a blessing.

"[Drugs] told me what to do," he said. "It ran my life."

He adds he had a good life and was close with his family. His addiction eventually left him isolated, drawing him to near death many times.

"I've overdosed a lot," he admitted. "I can't count how many times."

The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center announced counterfeit/fake prescription Xanax and Oxycontin drugs are being sold across the state. According to addiction nurse Amanda Futkos, users often times don't even know they've taken a drug that contains fentanyl. 

"You never know what you're getting these days," she said. "A lot of times what we'll see is urine drugs screens coming back positive for fentanyl and our clients swearing up and down that they didn't use. A lot of people think, 'It could never happen to me.'"

The CDC Control reports a 26.6 percent increase in Ohio overdoses compared to 2020. Schneider is still on the road of recovery, and now spends his time helping other addicts do the same.

"Where I'm going in my future, I just want to keep growing and helping out,” he said. "I tell them that I've been in their shoes and I understand what they're feeling, and be able to help them."

You can find examples of how dangerously similar counterfeit drugs are to real prescription drugs here. The Ohio Narcotics Intelligence Center found that counterfeit pills are being distributed on the "dark web" and through person-to-person sales, and stress that it's not safe to take a pill from anyone that is not a licensed provider.