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Thumbs down: Heroin overdoses show the need for treatment

Jan. 22, 2013 @ 09:50 PM

The five heroin overdoses in Parkersburg over the past two weeks are a sad reminder of the power of addiction.

Heroin has made a surprising comeback in many communities, despite its reputation as one of the most dangerous and addictive of all street drugs.

But in many cases it is marketed to those already hooked on prescription pain pills. That was certainly the case in 2007 when more than a dozen people in the Tri-State died from overdoses of a powerful, black tar heroin shipped from Mexico. Interviews showed several of the victims were using the heroin as a substitute for pills that had become scarce or too expensive.

The tragedies also showed how a sophisticated black market operation sought out areas where pill addiction already had taken hold.

The Parkersburg investigators believe the overdoses, which include one death, result from a strong batch of heroin from New York. Unfortunately, these street drugs are much more unpredictable than the prescription pain pills they are replacing, and users can easily take too much.

Investigators are working to identify the source of the drugs, but unfortunately, as long as there is a demand in the community, suppliers will seek out that market.

West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio all need to do more to provide the treatment and assistance to help residents conquer their addictions.

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