Low prices and easy access have led to a troubling comeback of the addictive drug heroin, area officials said Monday, with police officials and social workers scrambling to frame responses to the problem.
“We’ve even seen people sell their prescription drugs in order to get money to buy heroin,” said Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond.
Delaware County, is forming a task force to address the issue because law enforcement, on its own, won’tunable to stem the tide, he adknolwedged.
“We can’t pretend it’s not here,” DuMond said. “It’s here.”
When trusted inmates from the county jail in Delhi were assigned to pick up litter along county roads last summer, they often found numerous discarded hypodermic syringes on the roadside, apparently tossed out of vehicles by drug users, he noted.
The Sheriff’s Department had to put a “sharps container” in the van used to transport the inmates so they wouldn’t get punctured by the dirty needles.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that we would see something like that in Delaware County,” Dumond said.
Some experts said that effective efforts to tighten access to prescription drugs may have prompted some addicts to seek out heroin from street dealers.
“It’s gone from pills to heroin over the past three to five years,” said Chenango County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Richard Cobb. “Pills became harder to get, and heroin became really cheap.”
Police officials said the have noticed a connection between heroin abuse and property crimes committed by desperate addicts trying to finance their habits. When investigators are assigned to work on cases involving bad checks, fraud or thefts, it is not uncommon that the trail leads them to a heroin user, Cobb said.
Meanwhile, deputies will occasionally encounter heroin paraphernalia in homes they enter to investigate domestic violence complaints, he added.