The Portland Press Herald is reporting a growing trend in Maine – heroin use. A recent article explains how heroin is taking over and what it means for the future of drug enforcement. In the past 5 years, heroin use in the United States has increased by 79% and is now at its highest levels of abuse since the 70s.
One of the reasons the article gives for the increase in heroin abuse is its price. Heroin can be purchased for a relatively cheap price, especially when compared to that of prescription drugs. Whereas prescription drugs like Vicodin and oxycodone cost five or six dollars per pill, a bag of heroin costs about $10 on average. Police believe that many young people begin their addiction with prescription drugs but in time move on to heroin because it is cheaper as more and more of the drug is needed to feed their daily habit. For example, one young person interviewed by the paper said she:
needed nine or 10 Vicodin to get high – a $50 a day habit at $5 or $6 a pill. “For the amount I needed, I didn't have money like that to spend,” she said. Two or three $10 baggies of heroin were enough for a day.
The trend of heroin use is also receiving attention, because of the demographics that are being drawn to it. The new heroin users are young people in their late teens and early twenties from white suburban families. Where is in the past heroin was seen mostly in inner cities with a large black market drug trade, the drug is now finding its way to the suburbs. The article also state that young people are less intimidated by heroin now that older generation have been. Many abusers begin by snorting or smoking it and later move on to injecting.
In October Governor Paul LePage and safety Commissioner John Morris met with police in Westbrook to speak about the growing drug problem. There police mentioned the growing number of heroin found during police raids in the state. In early October, for example, Maine police arrested three people from New York carrying 125 grams of heroin into the state.
Prescription drug abuse has long been a problem in Maine. Based on arguments by the Portland Press Herald, it should come as no surprise that heroin is also an increasing trend. As people who abuse prescription drugs that are opiates, like Vicodin, become more and more dependent on the drug and require higher and higher amounts, the price of their addiction becomes quite high. For many opiate addicts heroin is a cheap alternative.
Opiate addictions are very serious. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) is working to increase their efforts to stop prescription drug and heroin abuse. Maine police blame a lot of other crimes such as burglaries on drug abuse as well. This means that police will probably look to crack down on prescription fraud and drug possession of any type.