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Heroin back in area

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Think heroin use went out of favor in the 1970s and ’80s? Think again.

A new crop of users is “chasing the high,” according to Henry County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Winn.

Authorities are battling to keep heroin off the streets, he said. “Our special investigations division has been working hard to get those people out there who are distributing it, and to keep it somewhat under control.”

Winn, who has been working in local law enforcement for more than 20 years, said he does not recall heroin being a problem in the local drug market until the last couple of years.

“Roanoke has had a problem with it for some time now, and now we’re starting to see more and more of it,” Winn said.

In a recent eight-month drug investigation in Henry County, heroin in amounts ranging from .03 grams to 5.4 grams was purchased or seized, according to a sheriff’s office news release. Also bought or seized were quantities of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana as well as methadone, oxycodone and Fentanyl.

Indictments were issued on five felony counts of distributing heroin, second offense, in connection with that investigation, the release added.

Locally, heroin likely is not taking the place of any other illegal substances, he said.

“It’s just really being introduced and starting to get a hold,” Winn said “I think when cocaine became so prevalent, it kind of took away from heroin a little bit.”

The last two decades or so, the problems seen by authorities have “predominantly been with cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills,” Winn said. “Over the last six or seven years, methamphetamine started to show itself” and now, heroin.

Online reports indicate the drug is making a resurgence in many parts of the country.

All heroin is imported, Winn said, explaining that poppies are grown and the drug is made in areas like Mexico, central and south America and Afghanistan.

It is “probably the Number 1 cash crop in Afghanistan,” he said.

Known by several street names, heroin is an opium based drug that is highly addictive, according to Winn and www.abovetheinfluence.com.

In powder form, heroin can be mixed with water and injected, or it can be snorted, Winn said. The website stated it also can be smoked.

The drug typically is packaged in what is called a bindle, which typically weighs about .03 grams and costs $30 to $35, he said.

Winn said the drug has a “somewhat similar effect as cocaine,” with users often experiencing a state of euphoria that many may call a rush, according to online reports.

“A lot of times, I’ve talked to people who have used different types of drugs, and some say the first time they used it (heroin), they were hooked” while others said it took a few uses to become addicted, Winn said.

Distributors then can either jack up the price or reduce the quality, Winn said.

One tactic used by distributors is to give first-time users a higher concentration or purity level of the drug, Winn said. Then, as the user becomes addicted, distributors “start cutting the potency of it so it takes more and more (to get high).”

So a first-time user may experience the “most intense high ever” and then keeps using more and more of the lesser quality drug as they “keep trying to get back to that euphoria,” Winn said. “We call that chasing the high.”

Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdoses and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, online reports stated.

The potential of trying the drug or getting hooked on it is not “limited to any specific age group. It has the potential to hit anyone,” Winn said.

 

 
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