Heroin use on the rise

Mar 12, 2014 8:45 PM

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that heroin use has become "an urgent and growing public health crisis" and the North State is no stranger to the problem. Heroin use has been steadily rising over the last few years, especially over the past year. With the overdose and death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, there has been a renewed focus on the drug and it's affects.

Drug treatment centers here in the North State have been seeing more and more people coming to them for help. "We've really seen an increase. In fact, we have facilities that are entirely dedicated to prescription medication and heroin addiction," said Jennifer Carvalho, Executive Director of Skyway House Treatment Services.

For the years of 2009 to 2011, Butte County ranked 4th of 58 counties in the state of California for drug induced deaths. In 2012, 2/3 of the 72 drug induced deaths were opiate related. Many people start with prescription drugs but then transition to heroin because of the convenience. “It's much easier to get on the black market than it is to walk into a pharmacy and refill your prescription of oxycodone. So it's a cheap and easy alternative and I think that's why we're seeing such a high rate of heroin use in the north state lately," explained Carvalho.

Heroin has no socioeconomic boundaries when it comes to those who become addicted and everyone is at risk. "Professionals being addicted to opiate based drugs such as heroin, and also all the way down to 16 year old juveniles here in Chico," said Officer Kevin Hass of the Chico Police Department.

With this new era of prescription pain medications, it's made it easy to for kids and young adults to get on this dangerous path. "Minors especially feel its okay to take prescription medication that’s given to them by somebody because it's from a pharmacy or from a doctor. However, having that mindset allows someone the propensity to become addicted to that opiate based drug and then when they can't get it, they may turn to the illicit street drugs," said Hass.

If you or anyone you know has a heroin or drug abuse problem, you can call the Skyway House at 530-898-8326 or click here. You can also get more information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse by clicking here.


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