Smack Is Back: The Return Of Heroin

Bayer Heroin bottleOf course for some communities heroin never really went away, but the Wall Street Journal reports that in small American towns the decreased street availability of prescription painkillers has led to a resurgence:

ELLENSBURG, Wash.—This small city east of the Cascade Mountains is known for its hay farms, rodeos and, increasingly, something more sinister: a growing heroin problem.

The drug surfaced in the past two years and is spawning a new generation of addicts. The fatal overdose of a state trooper’s son in May convulsed the town—especially when the two men arrested and charged with selling him heroin turned out to be a county official’s sons. They pleaded not guilty in Kittitas County Superior Court and are awaiting trial.

“It really shook our community,” said Norman Redberg, executive director of Kittitas County Alcohol Drug Dependency Service. He has evaluated 27 heroin users in the fiscal year that ended June 30, compared with three in 2008. Ellensburg has 18,000 residents.

Heroin use in the U.S. is soaring, especially in rural areas, amid ample supply and a shift away from costlier prescription narcotics that are becoming tougher to acquire. The number of people who say they have used heroin in the past year jumped 53.5% to 620,000 between 2002 to 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There were 3,094 overdose deaths in 2010, a 55% increase from 2000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Much of the heroin that reaches smaller towns such as Ellensburg comes from Mexico, where producers have ramped up production in recent years, drug officials say. Heroin seizures at the Southwest border, from Texas to California, ballooned to 1,989 kilograms in fiscal 2012 from 487 kilograms in 2008, according to figures from the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The heroin scourge has been driven largely by a law-enforcement crackdown on illicit use of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and drug-company reformulations that make the pills harder to crush and snort, drug officials say. That has pushed those who were addicted to the pills to turn to heroin, which is cheaper and more plentiful…

[continues in the Wall Street Journal]


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45 Comments on "Smack Is Back: The Return Of Heroin"

  1. emperorreagan | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:24 am |

    I’m sure that none of the parties working in opium rich war zones are smuggling anything back and helping to drive availability, no sirree!

    • Eric_D_Read | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:36 am |

      I’m wondering who has the lobbying sway to cut into Big Pharma’s opiate profits and make room for more heroin.

      • Calypso_1 | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:53 am |

        Lots of new suboxone scripts when the well runs dry.

        • Eric_D_Read | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:55 am |

          Last I heard, they only prescribe that in detox and rehab centers.

          • emperorreagan | Aug 9, 2013 at 10:15 am |

            In the future, all rehab & detox centers will be attached to a prison and there will be guaranteed prescription rates to match the guaranteed incarceration rates.

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 9, 2013 at 10:27 am |

            Prescribers get a certification & are registered.
            In my state there are clinics that are essentially doc-n-box’s that specialize in ‘rehab’.

          • Eric_D_Read | Aug 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

            But are they all inpatient, or can you walk up and get a suboxone script to go?

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 9, 2013 at 6:14 pm |

            It is essentially walk-in. As far as regulatory paperwork it would be smart if the pts were referrals. If something questionable comes up & your practice is audited, looking like a pill mill is not going to help.
            Its also ordered during non-rehab hospitalization when emergent withdrawal occurs. Some pts get referrals this way as generally no discharge rx is given.

          • Eric_D_Read | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

            Either your state treats things very differently than mine, or policies have changed drastically since I divorced the Brown Lady.

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm |

            The regulatory changes that set things in motion here occured in 2009.
            I know very little of other state implementations of healthcare law (one is hard enough).
            Our Guv is on the Fed state taskforce for pharmo enforcement so we do get pilot projects.

          • It’s not a daily thing. I go in once a month. It’s nothing like methadone.

          • Don’t be so quick to shit on suboxone.
            I’m prescribed it.
            Those who say it’s trading one drug for another…yes, that’s true.
            But, quitting opiates entirely is damn near impossible. I’ve tried SO many times. The withdrawal is a physical and emotional hell second to no other pain on earth. I wouldn’t wish it on Hitler. It’s that bad. You’d be shocked how painful the withdrawal is…and how long it lasts. Withdrawal from pain pills lasts months. Withdrawal from heroin lasts a week…that’s the one upside to heroin.
            But…suboxone has changed my life. I no longer have to worry 24/7 about running out…or going through withdrawal(the scariest prospect I can imagine)…OR getting arrested.
            That’s the thing….the biggest danger, by far, is the illegality of “hard” drugs. Having to deal with drug dealers, worrying about running out…and paying for them, AND worrying about the law is nearly a full time job. The downsides to illegality are orders of magnitude worse than the downsides of the drugs themselves.
            Subxone allows me to live a normal life.
            Hopefully one day we’ll realize that prohibition is more harmful than meth…and take a lesson from places like Portugal that have cut out that harm…all while reducing addiction AND use rates.

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:03 am |

            I’m not shitting on it. I think such methods should be available to whoever is in need of treatment for opiate addiction, be it pharmaceuticals (therapeutic or abuse) or ‘illicit’ substances.
            My quip was at certain clinics that profit off the same individuals they previously were cranking pain killer scripts out to.
            If you are around here at all you’ll see I am a big advocate for medical models on a wide range of issues…it’s the business models that are problematic.

          • Didn’t mean to call you out. Your stance seems pretty sane. And yeah, I agree with you about pain clinics that care nothing about people’s lives.
            Actually, the suboxone doctor I go to is an ex-addict and his entire staff are very kind people. It surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that.

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 13, 2013 at 11:04 am |

            I’m glad you were able to find a doc that worked for you.
            There are many med people that go into their specialties because of close personal involvement with the illness. It can make a world of difference for patients & families. I live in a state that often tops the list for opiate abuse among med professionals. I know a few who have been able to turn it around and give back in that area…many though (if their licensure survives) don’t want to draw attention to that ‘stigma’. That’s a shame if you believe in the medical model for addiction….get’s us back to the politics & the War on Drugs.

  2. VaudeVillain | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:40 am |

    As someone who lives a couple of blocks from a methadone clinic in an area where heroin never left, it isn’t really so bad. There are overdoses, and a lot of the addicts are trapped between pathetic and obnoxious, but it could be much worse. For example, they could be on meth, which is certainly available around here, but never became as popular as it did in most of the country.

    The whole problem is stupid, of course. People are going to get high, fighting that is a waste of time and resources. We need to seriously overhaul our drug policies, because the War On Drugs strategy has been a failure in every sense of the word.

    • Eric_D_Read | Aug 9, 2013 at 9:54 am |

      Unfortunately the War on Some Drugs hasn’t failed at all.
      It has been wildly successful for those in the business of eroding civil liberties, profiting from the prison/industrial/surveillance complex, and the banks who launder all those cartel profits.

    • Noah_Nine | Aug 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

      i’ve found that dealing with junkies in yr community is preferable to dealing with crackheads or meth addicts….

      • Or….drunks….the worst drug users of all.
        I mean, if we’re going to base this on personal health and social harm….alcohol is more harmful than all illegal drugs combined x10.

        • Eric_D_Read | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm |

          I’d say meth and crack are worse, but alcohol definitely comes in next on the list.

  3. Charlie Primero | Aug 9, 2013 at 10:04 am |

    From this government DEA press release we take away that:

    * Local police are under-funded.
    * Social services are under-funded.
    * Prisons are under-funded.
    * Big Pharma is working for the public good
    * Public health non-profits are under-funded.
    * Border control agencies are under-funded.

    The obvious solution is to print more money and spend it on local police, private prisons, health clinics, federal police, social services, public health services. Thanks Wall Street Journal!

  4. howiebledsoe | Aug 9, 2013 at 10:49 am |

    Sure, these are the kids who were stealing mom’s oxycontin 10 years ago. The meth problem tends to take care of itself, as the body can only go for so long on the stuff. If you have the resources to get decent quality smack, you can go on indefinately. (William Burroughs is a good example.) So getting kids hooked on oxy during the Afgan takeover was a very astute business scheme, as they are now hooked and cant get ahold of the oxy, which pharma has begun to charge too much for.

    • Noah_Nine | Aug 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

      burroughs did not have a habit for a large portion of his later life….

  5. Rus Archer | Aug 9, 2013 at 11:16 am |

    thanks obama

  6. BuzzCoastin | Aug 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm |

    while at the same time
    large numbers of people were snorting iPhones & Facebook
    and oldsters were ingesting massive doses of TV
    and a majority of the deluded were chasing worthless money
    so they could give it to the gruberment to fight crime with crime

  7. InfvoCuernos | Aug 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

    once you do it, it never goes away completely.

    • That is indeed the scariest part of opiate addiction.
      People who wonder, “Why don’t they just…stop using?” do not get it…at all.
      Once you get addicted, you’re pretty much addicted for life. You’ll either have to be on maintenance meds like Suboxone…or…live a life of constant pain and cravings…battling your will-power 24/7.
      Opiates are INSANELY addictive. It amazes me that most of the country is a-ok with Rx-ing them…but medical marijuana freaks them out. Makes…no…sense.

      • InfvoCuernos | Aug 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

        Its pretty mind-blowing to me too. The side effects of opiates alone should keep docs from prescribing it, but when you are a medical professional and are aware of just how addictive this stuff is, then you begin to see what kind of evil fucks are running the show now.

        • The decision to not prescribe painkillers because there’s a risk of abuse/addiction means leaving people in pain. Think “I’m sorry your cancer hurts but I don’t want to risk someone getting high or addicted-have you tried aspirin?”

          • InfvoCuernos | Aug 11, 2013 at 3:58 pm |

            ya, because that’s all that ever gets prescribed painkillers-people that really need them. Trying to flip this around to make me sound like a heartless asshole that denies poor cancer patients their meds is about as big a troll move as there is. The problem isn’t the cancer patient being addicted, the problem is that guy or woman that tweeked their back getting prescribed Oxycontin turning a temporary problem into a permanent one. Pain is part of life. Some pain you just have to bare otherwise you forfeit the life.

          • Not at all trying to make you out to be a heartless asshole, just trying to make a point I think is important. When doctors are discouraged from prescribing pain meds pain gets undertreated. If I’m in pain I don’t want the war on drugs fought in my body. I may decide to suck up the pain cause it’s part of life, or not, but I want it to be my choice. I’m also not buying the whole notion that two weeks of oxycontin for a back problem can create a permanent dependence problem without a little complicity on the part of the patient. The problem is that doctors do buy this notion when it’s repeated often enough. Add some lawsuits, regulations and DEA prosecutions and it becomes much easier to just toe the drug war line and leave some poor bastard in pain. In the last 150 years there’s been this cycle where the source of addiction is seen to be the supply of drugs from doctors, which is then regulated away, medicinal sources dry up and (in the case of opiates) pain is undertreated, a black market emerges to supply those willing to engage with it, a pharmaceutical company creates a new ostensibly addiction-free opiate for doctors to prescribe(morphine, dilaudid, oxycontin) and the whole thing starts over. My point is that since recreational drugs are a product with a near inexhaustible supply, the risk of addiction from medical sources is far the lesser evil when compared to leaving patients in pain. Which will happen if doctors are discouraged from prescribing opiates for fear of creating addiction.In other words, help the patient understand the risks and let them decide since it’s their body.

      • Eric_D_Read | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:21 pm |

        That’s not true. I was a daily shooter from my late teens through my mid 20s.
        I kicked cold turkey. Haven’t used dope in several years since. I’ve even been prescribed and used percocet and vicodin a few times since then without any problems.

        Even in worst case heroin addiction, it takes up two one or two months to really feel right physically and maybe 6-9 months before you’re brain gets straightened out.

        The important part is that the addict has to truly be done with the drug. I stopped basically when it ceased to be any fun whatsoever.

        • I’m glad you kicked it. But, statistics show you will almost certainly relapse.
          I realize that’s the last thing you’d ever want to consider, but it’s just a numbers game.
          Of course, some people are able to stay clean forever after. I hope you’re one of them. I know I’m not and every addict I’ve ever met certainly isn’t either. When you meet people who’ve relapsed 20 times and tried EVERYTHING to stop and would rather kill themselves than go on, you begin to see how powerful addiction is.
          You’re actually probably very lucky you got out by your mid 20s. That’s right around the time the adult brain reaches it’s apex of growing and habituation. You probably kicked just before you’re brain became less susceptible to new habit forming behavior.

  8. tibby trillz | Aug 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

    just had really bad accident and got lots of dilaudid at the hospital while waiting for an appendage to be reattached then they gave me oxycontin for a while to dull the constant pain. i dont get it. it definitely numbs the pain but it also has the terrible side effect of narcolepsy and makes you feel like puking. thats fun and worth alienating (and also stealing from) your friends and family? the whole thing is a mystery to me. i dont see whats so great about falling asleep constantly, and i really dont get why anyone would pay so much for that experience.

    • Noah_Nine | Aug 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

      humans have varying chemical make-ups…. opiates effect everyone differently…. yr experience may not have impressed you but you make not be compatible with the drug….

    • rhetorics_killer | Aug 10, 2013 at 9:00 am |

      “i dont see whats so great about falling asleep constantly”

      Drugs distributed via pharmacy like oxycondin are a loose emulation of ‘real opiates.’ Even among those, morphine is a quite different version from heroin, I would say one much loaded with bothering side-effects, like the ‘alzheimer ability’ to destroy memory continuum. None of these two can bring on dreams the way smoked opium does. To say so means you know very little about these drugs. Not enough to state any kind of judgement.

      Another point is that unlike people in a state of awareness, ready to rush on knowledge, fight or any kind of conquest, those on the lose frequently beg for unconsciousness. They can feel a relief in being knocked out, as strange as can be such a wish for a normally active person. The drug deconnects from a life of pain. (Always remember an average drug-addict is a sick person, someone whose everyday’s life hurts.)

    • Calypso_1 | Aug 10, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

      Realize you are in actual physical pain which is a biochemical process that alters the experience from someone taking it recreationally. You are being given therapeutic dosing and not a fast push. The oxy mess is from people crushing a time-release product to get the whole dose. Nausea is a primary side effect of opiate naivety and diminishes significantly in most long-term users. People’s responses also simply vary. Not everyone gets drowsy, some become alert (particularly with coexisting depression). One factor is the genetics of an individual’s opioid receptors. Outside of euphoria/endorphin response induced by the drug these are heavily tied into brain’s reward pathways. Some people are more prone to addiction to anything. It can become less about the pleasure and more about the need.

      • tibby trillz | Aug 11, 2013 at 10:57 am |

        yeh i tried snorting a pill while i was taking oxy. i was bored and had to quit ciggerettes because of the surgery and figured id see the sites while i was there. im sure injecting it would have given me a bigger piece of the puzzle. the feeling i got was fleeting and not worth the trouble. i dont know, i guess im lucky that i dont get it.

  9. | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm |

    Interesting that poppy production skyrocketed once we (The U.S.)
    ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan. I realize that’s not the only source
    in the states, but its a big one and OUR GOVERNMENT is facilitating production and acting as the single biggest dope dealer in the world. Ask some military personnel who’ve deployed there and you’ll very likely hear stories about our own troops guarding poppy fields and training their Afghan compatriots to do so as well.

    It’s really a sick and twisted scenario, though, because they go on to make
    billions on the other end via our prison-industrial complex, which locks
    up their ready-made addicts (see customers) for possession of the dope
    they help grow and import. And if you think that they didn’t know about the highly addictive qualities of Oxycontin before it was mass-distributed (another sick, yet economically genius govt scheme) , I have a bridge I’d like to sell you .

  10. THEUNSEENofNOTISH | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm |

    This is actually a huge problem right now in cities too, not just rural areas. Uninformed people like to believe its imports that are causing the problem, however, living in a city which runs on the Medical Industry, it has arisen moreso out of an overabundance of opiate painkillers that are sold by patients for great street money, and can then be broken down and resynthesized into heroin. Dont sell your pills or give them away if you dont want them, give them back, unless you want to see heroin continue its rise back on the streets. Its real people, let it be known, time to stop blaming Mexico to cover up AMERICAN DIY chemists.

  11. THEUNSEENofNOTISH | Aug 10, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

    [for the moderator]: I protect my sources, its true and a good thing for people actually concerned about stopping people from deadly life long addictions that can easily be kept away from if these things if they were to be legal and above ground, rather than part of street crime culture and people who love getting rich tax free without concern for consequences.

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