Stillwater News Press

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February 11, 2014

DIANE DIMOND: Heroin makes a big comeback

Heroin is back — with a vengeance.

It never really disappeared from the drug-culture landscape, of course, but its popularity center has widened these days. It’s no longer the drug of choice for only the down-and-out habitual street druggie. Today, heroin has become a favorite of many middle- and upper-class folks who have lost their way in the search to find pain relief.

There are hundreds of thousands of Americans who snort or inject into their veins one of the most unpredictable and deadly drugs known to man. That should be of concern to all of us.

So many Americans have gotten hooked on so many different kinds of prescription painkilling drugs over the last decade — opiates such as Oxycontin or Vicodin — that new federal laws tightening access to them were passed, prices soared, and it became cheaper for addicts to buy a $10 bag of heroin.

The latest National Survey on drug use and health reports that heroin use in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last 10 years. Some 156,000 Americans age 12 or older admitted they first tried heroin in 2012. (That is not a misprint. Yes, 12-year-old children are using heroin.) This is a fraction of the total number of illicit drug abusers in this country, but here’s the saddest part: Today’s heroin is killing people at an alarming rate.

A federal agent who runs major heroin trafficking investigations recently told ABC News, “Heroin is exploding nationwide. It’s making a huge comeback. People are dropping like flies.” Part of the reason is that addicts have no way of knowing the potency of the heroin they buy — or what might have been added to it.

For those readers who think this topic doesn’t touch their life — I implore you to think again.

Functioning heroin addicts are all around us. They drive next to us on the highways, work in our hospitals or teach in our schools. Those who have been arrested and incarcerated went through the taxpayer-funded justice system and are sitting in prisons paid for with your tax dollars.

The heroin epidemic affects you. It affects all of us. And it’s only getting worse.

Visit Diane Dimond’s official website at www.dianedimond.com for investigative reporting, polls and more.

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