lagrangenews.com

A matter of time until heroin shows up in region

Steena Hymes shymes@civitasmedia.com

March 24, 2014

Troup County law enforcement officials said that as of right now, this area has seemed to evade the heroin market and epidemic that other areas are experiencing.


Stewart Smith of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office reported only one incident in the past two years.


“Heroin is not that big of a problem at the current moment … it is in the bigger cities, but will probably make its way here sooner than later,” he said.


Sgt. Marshall McCoy from the LaGrange Police Department reported the same findings. He reported only one heroin case in the last few years as well.


McCoy said that it’s not that people in the area aren’t using heroin, but that the heroin supply doesn’t exist in Troup County, so they go to the larger cities like Atlanta to buy and deal.


Sgt. Mark Cavender guesses that the lack of supply here is a because there is a steady supply of other drugs like prescription pills or methamphetamine, so people haven’t turned to heroin.


Cavender said that there is a barrier between Atlanta and everything south of Atlanta, which has kept the heroin presence at a minimum.


Sgt. Nathan Taylor with the TCSO said that its only a matter of time until heroin shows up, however.


Columbus, just shy of an hour drive from Troup County, has seen tremendous increase in its heroin presence, he noted.


“All it takes is one person to come here and sell it and it spreads like wild fire,” he said.


Taylor said that heroin presents its own set of problems than others drugs because of its high overdose rate.


“Heroin is extremely addictive,” he said. “All it takes is one use and you’re hooked.”


Prescription drugs and methamphetamine are the problem drugs in Troup County according to officials. The danger then lies in the use of prescription drugs that commonly leads to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to buy.


“Research that I’ve done shows people who typically turn to heroin, somewhere along the way, began their addiction with prescription opiates,” Cavender said.


According a report by the Trust for America’s Health, proscription drug abuse has become a top health concern across the nation, with its overdose rate higher than those connected to heroin and cocaine combined.


Cavender said since 2010, prescription drug abuse in Troup County has seen a dramatic increase.


“As long as the availability of the prescription drugs is here … we’re going to continue to see an increase and spike in prescription drug use,” Cavender said.


Officials said they are always on the lookout for new drug markets popping up and try to stop it before it gets out of control with the help of the DEA.