HEROIN HAS MADE A VICIOUS COMEBACK IN THE TRI-STATE AREA, RESULTING IN RECORD-BREAKING OVERDOSE DEATHS IN BOTH OHIO AND KENTUCKY. STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS ARE CALLING IT, “A SIEGE THAT KNOWS NO ECONOMIC, SOCIAL OR POLITICAL BOUNDS.” IN THESE AREAS AFFECTED BY THIS EPIDEMIC, HEROIN IS BEING USED BY PEOPLE FROM ALL SOCIOECONOMIC LEVELS OFFICIALS SAY.
Heroin can devastate anyone and any family. It’s easy to come by. Just swing by the parking lot of any busy grocery store (even in an upscale neighborhood) or walk a few blocks in an inner city and you’ll find it. It doesn’t only appear in bad neighborhoods, It is everywhere – even upscale towns like Lexington, KY. It’s super cheap too, and dealers are capitalizing on this, as well as its addictiveness to support their own addiction. You can get high for just $5. You can die for $10..
Kentucky has the 3rd highest drug overdose rates in the nation and Fayette, Jefferson and Kenton Counties lead the state in overdose deaths involving heroin. The rate of drug-induced deaths in Kentucky (17 per 100,000) exceeds the national average (12.7 per 100,000). Deaths from drugs statewide made up almost 60 percent of accidental deaths statewide, more than car accidents, fire, drowning or gunshot wounds.
Heroin’s increase in purity led to an increase in the number of heroin users in the United States. When heroin is higher in purity, it can be snorted or smoked, which broadens its appeal. Many people who would never consider injecting a drug were introduced to heroin by inhalation. In the 1990s, the drug largely lost the stigma associated with injecting, and a new population of heroin users emerged. High-purity heroin is still commonly inhaled and, according to treatment officials, remains a common method of administration by new heroin initiates.
This new population of users is more diverse. Whereas in the 1970’s and 1980’s heroin use was largely confined to urban populations, use in the 1990’s and 2000’s spread to users in suburban and rural areas, more affluent users, younger users, and users of a wider range of races, according to research.There is no longer a typical heroin user.
The director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Tom Frieden notes, “What’s most striking and troubling is that we’re seeing heroin diffusing throughout society to groups that it hasn’t touched before…We’re seeing heroin affecting people in urban and rural areas, white, black and Hispanic, low middle and high income. We’re seeing heroin diffusing throughout society but we can turn this around.”
Kentucky is being hit hard, seeing a dramatic increase in crime rates as well as currently obtaining the third highest rate of deaths from overdoses in the nation. In 2008, police officers arrested about 250 people for either possession of or trafficking in heroin. In 2012, that number jumped to 1,300 arrests—a 500% increase.
Kentucky drug officials estimate heroin overdoses accounted for 233 deaths in 2014, a 959% increase from just four years ago, when 22 people died from heroin overdoses. Researchers estimate that drug abuse costs Kentucky $6,000,000,000 annually in health care, treatment, accidents and other expenses
These statistics are truly terrifying and must be faced. Kentucky is on the verge of a drug war the likes its never seen; it’s time we talked about heroin.
The new director of the National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, paid a visit to Northern Kentucky to address the severity of the region’s heroin epidemic as it’s having a profound impact in states like Kentucky, Indiana and New Jersey where local and federal health officials have been reporting rising levels of addiction to the drug.
Along with the National Drug Control Policy, Guvnor Steve Beshear has been approaching this epidemic by confronting the issue of addiction. “We know that addiction is a terrible disease, and better access to treatment will help these individuals and families who are suffering,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “New standards for health insurance require coverage for behavioral health needs, including drug abuse treatment, which will be a big help in addressing this problem.”
However, treatment options can be limited, especially for addicts in need of the most intense care. Less than 15 % of treatment and recovery sites offer 24-hour residential care; most only offer outpatient treatment or alternative drug treatment such as Suboxone or Methadone.
- (U) National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary (April 2015) Comments and questions may be addressed to the Chief, Analysis and Production Section at DEAIntelPublications@usdoj.gov
2. Special Report by Laura Unger & Chris Kenning | The Courier-Journal | Story by Laura Ungar