“Definitely,” according to Sergeant Jeremiah Marron of the Darien Police Department’s Selective Enforcement Unit, “Not only is Heroin sold and used in Darien, but its severely addictive properties are motivating crimes such as burglary, larceny, theft from vehicles, and recently even Home Invasion.”
"Heroin is pummeling the Northeast, leaving addiction, overdoses and fear in its wake," said James Hunt of the Drug Enforcement Administration's New York Office.
“In the first two weeks of 2014, police in Delray Beach, Florida, say, they seized more Heroin than they did in the past 10 years combined.” –Associated Press
We’re all familiar with the celebrities who have died from overdosing on heroin: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith, River Phoenix, John Belushi, Janis Joplin, and dozens more. For every celebrity whose life was destroyed by Heroin, there are hundreds more of “everyday” victims who have also died. Aside from their families and loved ones, have died unnoticed…until now. Heroin abuse is currently reaching epidemic proportions according to law enforcement.
The death toll in Connecticut has not yet been determined, but police in dozens of towns, including Fairfield County, are reporting huge increases in overdose deaths.
Heroin is made from morphine. On the street, it comes in a powder form that is nearly always “cut” or diluted for sale. It may be cut with sugar, starch, talcum powder, flour, powdered milk or similar substances. The color varies, but it may range from white to dark brown. The taste is bitter and it is commonly sold in plastic disposable bags.
The deadliest additive at the moment appears to be fentanyl, a strong narcotic painkiller usually administered to cancer and other patients near the end of their life. Heroin mixed with fentanyl has claimed dozens of lives in the eastern U.S. and has begun to take a toll in Connecticut, including the recent overdose deaths of a 14-year-old East Windsor High School student, a 21 year old Bedford, NY resident, and Greenwich Police report three overdose incidents recently.
Heroin can be taken in many ways – it may be snorted, smoked, injected or even eaten, although that is unlikely. For injection, heroin powder is mixed with water and then may be injected subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously (into a vein). To smoke heroin, it has to be heated to create vapors that can be inhaled; this is often done by heating it on a piece of foil.
Most heroin users begin by smoking it, but eventually progress to injection. Injection is actually less expensive, because it takes a smaller amount to get the same high. Injection also is said to provide a better “high.”
Law enforcement and addiction experts say the most common pattern is for people to move on to Heroin from abuse of opioid prescription drugs like Vicodin and oxycodone (OxyContin). Marron stated that at a recent Prescription Narcotic Interdiction Seminar, a major concern of the NYPD and other area agencies was the huge spike in daytime pharmacy robberies. Citing the stringent restrictions of prescription medication, addicts have turned to robbery in order to obtain their drug of choice. Marron says that “Heroin use has skyrocketed as regulations and laws have been put in place limiting access to prescription drugs. Prescription pills are abused in Darien. Unfortunately Heroin is a fraction of the price and addiction does not discriminate between young or old and affluent or disadvantaged.”
A "stamp bag," like the kind Phillip Seymour Hoffman had in his apartment, typically costs about $10 on the street. In New York City, a major center of the U.S. Heroin trade, a bag can cost $6, or as little as $4 if you buy in bulk. That's well within the reach of a whole bunch of people, both the curious novice and the hardcore addict. Even though Heroin makes for a common substitute for prescription pills, there's no way to regulate the dosage given the undetermined purity. This can be a fatal recipe.
But the low cost, the readily availability and the prescription pill-like high makes Heroin a draw that's hard to resist. In a recent interview with an individual who was addicted to OxyContin, the subject stated that he didn't just like it; he loved it. The problem was, he couldn't afford it. "I was pawning things: stealing from my parents, my sister, everyone who cared about me," he said. "Even that wasn't enough."
Heroin is one of the most destructive and addictive drugs in the world. It's not just the drug itself that's a danger, but also the crimes users and addicts commit to keep the high going. If you suspect a family member or loved one may be using or is addicted to Heroin, here are a list of 7 things to look out for:
1. Sudden behavior changes. Those who were once cheerful and full of life can turn into sullen, angry people when under the influence of heroin.
2. Changes in peer groups. Heroin users will begin to hang around with other users when the drug becomes an integral part of their lives. Even the oldest, most trusted friendships will be left behind in the name of the drug.
3. You find drug paraphernalia. Heroin use includes a variety of accessories, including needles and syringes, scales, coffee grinders, small plastic bags, etc. The user will try to hide the true purpose of these items, but taken together there is usually little question about their true purpose.
4. Money troubles. The heroin habit costs money, so those who become addicted will ask friends and family for loans, or when that fails, result to stealing money out of purses and wallets.
5. Missing possessions. If you are visiting the home of a heroin addict, you might see several items missing -TV’s, stereos, etc. That’s because selling expensive personal items is a common means of supporting a drug habit.
6. Body mutilation. Obviously, those who shoot heroin into their blood stream will begin to have needle marks on various parts of their body. Over time, these “tracks” become harder and harder to hide.
7. Drop off in work or school performance. Those who become addicted to heroin are unable to focus on anything else besides the drug, and finding the next fix. On the job, performance suffers, meetings are missed and absenteeism becomes more commonplace. At school, “A” students begin to see their grades fall. The perfect attendance student becomes a truant, and the same child who once dreamt of college, now only dreams of finding his or her next fix.
If you need help regarding substance abuse, dial 2-1-1 from anywhere in Connecticut.
If you feel your child is using drugs, call the Parents Toll-Free Helpline: 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373) or log on to http://timetoact.drugfree.org/