On Dec 4, Coroner Pam Gay and a spokesperson from the drug task force held a meeting regarding what they are calling a “heroin epidemic.” This year has seen 45 deaths caused by heroin use, an increase from the 17 total last year.
Aside from the deaths themselves, there are various other negatives that come from widespread heroin use, according to the presentation. It can cause families to fall apart, it has an economic effect on businesses due to the need to drug test their employees and also the sick days many addicts use. It also costs the taxpayers.
Along with human and economic negative tolls, there are numerous health risks that come along with using heroin. Abusers have high risk of HIV/AIDS/Hepatitis C, heart infections and other disorders. Using can also lead to organ failure.
Gay mentioned that sudden withdrawal can actually make a user sick, which can cause them to use again, making heroin addiction a “vicious cycle.”
Gay also went on to mention how it is common that prior to being a user of heroin, many times they have abused prescription pain pills. The high price of the pills led to users moving to heroin due to the cheap price of heroin. This is why Gay recommends discarding old and unused prescriptions in drug boxes at local police stations.
Gay noted it is rarely easy to figure out the best path for treatment for an addict.
“Do we use tough love, or try and control the situation?” said Gay.
Preventive steps were mentioned including what the community can do and also where to find help for an addict.
Members of the community can learn about legislation being proposed and can also contact with legislators regarding the heroin epidemic. If it’s known that someone has an addiction help should be seeked through family physicians or trusted adults.
Supporting community events and also promoting them regarding drug abuse can also help, according to Gay. She noted that this wasn’t a one solution problem.