They were warned of the trend long before it made it to our neck of the woods.
Just as meth began taking a grip on our area nearly a decade ago, heroin is now devastating individuals and their families who find themselves struggling with addiction issues.
Heroin is a cheaper alternative to illegally obtained prescription pain killers, which have been harder to come by because of increased law enforcement efforts, pharmacy oversight and the hesitancy of physicians to so freely prescribe them.
Opportunistic drug dealers have jumped on the heroin trend, making it easier to access and less expensive to buy. An unlimited supply of the drug is being pipelined into the area.
The Kentucky Senate has adopted legislation aimed at addressing the state’s growing heroin problem.
It contains provisions on treatment, education, and intervention.
Senate bill five increases penalties for high volume heroin traffickers and paves the way for charging them with homicide when there is an overdose death.
The measure also requires the Kentucky Medicaid Program to cover substance abuse treatment programs for those seeking treatment.
The state Office of Drug Control Policy reports there were 1,004 overdose deaths in Kentucky during 2012.
It included a 650 percent increase in heroin deaths compared to 2011.
When numbers for 2013 are released officials say we are likely to see a dramatic jump in those statistics.
While lawmakers and law enforcers are working to take traffickers off the streets, families in Marshall County and across the state are struggling with addiction issues and the death of loved ones.
Anecdotally, we’ve heard the stories of heroin addiction and abuse right here in our town.
We’ve heard about a young pregnant woman in our community so desperately addicted to heroin that she injected the drug between her toes to avoid the detection of needle marks by healthcare providers during prenatal visits.
We’ve also heard stories of once vibrant young people who turned to heroin as an escape when life became overwhelming. Their families are now overwhelmed by sadness at the untimely death of their loved ones.
The stories, while shocking, are too often grounded in truth to a larger degree than we might imagine or want to believe.
Prepare to hear more of them and read more about the arrest of dealers who are supplying the habit in the pages of this and other newspapers as law enforcement agencies find themselves adding a problem as big as the meth crisis to their agendas.
Tougher laws directed at dealers are needed and will hopefully be enacted during the current legislative session, but the fight to eradicate yet another addiction problem taking a hold on our community is only just beginning.