Heroin goes mainstream

…from the New York Times about the resurgence of heroin throughout America.  In NYC they reported that a bag of heroin can be had for SIX dollars. 

In the wake of the prescription painkiller epidemic, heroin, much of it Mexican, has wormed its way into unsuspecting communities far from the Southwestern border as a cheaper and often more easily obtained alternative.

Ms. Ivy’s was believed to be the seventh fatal heroin overdose in eight months in Hudson, Wisconsin, with a population of 13,000 located on the St. Croix River near Minneapolis. Two months after her death, and before yet another young Hudson woman died — at a “sober house” — of a heroin overdose in October, nearly 500 townspeople crowded into the First Presbyterian Church for a forum called “Heroin in Hudson: A Community in Crisis.”

Ms. Ivy’s death certificate, recently released, revealed that a mix of drugs was to blame; the police declined to specify the drugs since her death remains under investigation. But “Alysa Ivy was a heroin abuser, and her addiction to drugs killed her,” said Patty Schachtner, the St. Croix County medical examiner.

“It’s a tightknit community, and these kids all knew each other,” Ms. Schachtner said of those who overdosed. “They were not what you might expect. They were not the faces of heroin addiction we see on television.”

  • Nationally, those faces are getting younger and whiter. The most recent federal data show that 19,154 opioid drug deaths in 2010, with 3,094 involving heroin and the rest painkillers.
  • Eighty-eight percent of those who died from heroin were white, half were younger than 34, and almost a fifth were ages 15 to 24.
  • Heroin deaths of teenagers and young adults tripled in the first decade of this century.

And those statistics lag behind heroin’s resurgence over the last few years, as crackdowns on pill mills have made painkillers harder to get and new formulations have made them harder to abuse.

Painkillers remain a far larger problem, but a federal study last year showed that four of five recent heroin initiates had previously abused painkillers, and the amount of heroin seized on the Southwestern border rose 232 percent from 2008 to 2012 as Mexican traffickers moved their product deep into the United States.

In Wisconsin, heroin seizures, arrests and deaths have risen sharply. The Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team surveyed county coroners and found 199 heroin-related deaths in 2012, a 50 percent increase over 2011 and almost seven times as many as the 2000-7 average.

The first heroin fatality in Hudson occurred about three years ago, Detective Sgt. Geoff Willems of the Hudson police said, and “it was pretty surprising.”

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