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Heroin use on rise in Georgia

Sunday, May 11, 2014 6:27 PM
Last updated Monday, May 12, 2014 2:00 AM
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Heroin use is on the rise statewide, while many other drugs appear to be waning, according to an analysis of drug submissions to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s crime lab.



Bianca Cain Johnson
Staff Writer
E-mail | 706-823-3486

The analysis shows heroin submissions have increased by more than 300 percent since 2011. The current fiscal year has seen a 20 percent increase, while all other drugs during that period have decreased by 22 percent.

It’s a problem local police are also dealing with.

Richmond County sheriff’s Sgt. Jason Vinson took a four-year break from the narcotics division to work in criminal investigations. When he recently returned to narcotics, he said he was surprised at the drug’s sudden popularity.

“It was a shock to me when I came back,” he said. “It was so rare (before).”

Vinson estimates the county has seen a 70 to 80 percent increase in the past five years, much of it coming into the area from Atlanta.

Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Sharif Chochol said he began seeing the increase last year.

In 2011, 4.2 million Americans, or 1.6 percent, ages 12 and older had used the drug at least once, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Vinson said it appears that many users claim they started off taking prescription painkillers, such as Oxycontin. When the drug started to have less effect, they began melting and shooting up the painkillers before eventually moving on to heroin.

When abused, prescription opiates such
as Oxycontin and Vicodin have an effect similar to heroin, which is derived from morphine.

Heroin, which can be injected, inhaled or smoked, is considered highly addictive and is said to cause a surge of euphoria accompanied by dry mouth, flushing of the skin, heaviness of the extremities and
clouded mental function. Users then go into an alternately wakeful and drowsy state, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Long-term abuse results in collapsed veins, pulmonary complications, liver disease and clogging of the blood vessels.

While the drug’s use is rising locally, it still doesn’t compare to the number of methamphetamine users police see.

“We have seen more heroin than in years past but it’s not the most prevalent drug we have,” Chochol said.

Heroin, however, is slightly cheaper than meth. Chochol estimates that heroin sells for about $40 for an eighth of a gram while meth sells for $150-$200 per gram.

GBI CRIME LAB NUMBERS
YEARHEROIN SUBMISSIONS
2011276
2012356
2013717
2014(to date) 863

*All of the statistics are for a fiscal year cycle that runs from July to June.

Source: Georgia Bureau of Investigation

Comments (12) Add comment
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KSL
151939
Points
KSL 05/12/14 - 03:48 am
3
1
The math in the last

The math in the last paragraph is confusing to someone who is ignorant of drugs and their effects. The assumtion has to be that it takes less heroin than meth to produce the desired effect, whatever that is. (40 × 8 is 320).

soapy_725
44601
Points
soapy_725 05/12/14 - 05:52 am
0
0
New Age Math. $320 < $200. Deaths may result in this math.
Unpublished

New Age Math. $320 < $200. Deaths may result in this math.

itsanotherday1
50243
Points
itsanotherday1 05/12/14 - 07:14 am
2
0
Correct KSL

I am curious about what the relative cost per "high" or "hit" is since they mentioned heroin was cheaper.

Little Lamb
50785
Points
Little Lamb 05/12/14 - 11:25 am
1
0
Clarity

You are absolutely correct, KSL. The last paragraph is not clear. Probably Ms. Cain Johnson did not do well in math in her school and college days.

One thing that strikes me is the increased availability and the resulting lower cost of heroin today versus just three or four years ago. The conclusion is that the Obama administration has reversed the initiatives in Afghanistan to destroy the opium poppy fields and to subsidize farmers to grow other crops.

So, in Obama's haste to withdraw U.S. influence from Afghanistan, he has enabled the heroin traders to get more product into the U.S. He doesn't care. He's busy campaigning.

KSL
151939
Points
KSL 05/12/14 - 01:02 pm
0
1
And golfing. 3 million

And golfing. 3 million dollars this year for his golf trips. Where is the outrage from anyone who pays taxes.

A little bit of education for those who don't think they are not in for a suraffected by the income taxes you don't pay. You are in for a surprise.

George112
4
Points
George112 05/12/14 - 03:44 pm
0
0
As already noted, some

As already noted, some excellent math to complete the article. How is meth cheaper by the gram? Very sloppy. Sadly, Heroin is back in a big way and the vast majority is not from Afghanistan, although I appreciate the 'shots' at Barack--! Sadly, the President is irrelevant in the war on drugs...Nixon started the war and the political affiliation makes no difference, as long as the USA wants substances, they will be provided. While I realize you can't legalize all drugs and it is a slippery slope, there has to be a better way. Would certainly increase tax revenue and decrease crime - and consumption will continue, regardless of whether we declare a 'war on drugs' or not.

George112
4
Points
George112 05/12/14 - 03:47 pm
0
0
The outrage for Obama's golf?

The outrage for Obama's golf? That is way down the list of things that taxpayers should be upset about, but apathy has a grip on this country in a BIG way. Politicians are accountable to the taxpayer--when are we going to hold them accountable? I'm with you KSL, but too many of our neighbors/fellow citizens are 'content' - we shouldn't be. We are 'settling' when this country/society could be so much better.

Bizkit
37292
Points
Bizkit 05/13/14 - 06:45 am
0
0
That's funny KSL. Heroin is

That's funny KSL. Heroin is more expensive per gram. I guess they should have qualified per fix or per high or something. Why not just play Russian roulette with a loaded gun cause that is what your doing with heroin or meth.

Bizkit
37292
Points
Bizkit 05/13/14 - 07:48 am
0
0
Funny how numbers can give

Funny how numbers can give you false impressions. I've been reading up on carbon dioxide production in relation to global warming and they units of carbon dioxide produced "per capita" which what the heck? So California can produce 346 metric tons and Pennsylvania produce 245 metric tons but because CA is more populated then their carbon dioxide emissions per capita is 9.18 for CA and 19.22 for Pennsylvania-so even though CA produces more they get good rating. Global comparisons the same where the US is a major producer compared to China-even though China produces almost twice as much carbon dioxide they are ranked 55th and the US as 12th. Canada with a smaller population ranked as 14th even they produce 1/16 that the US produces. The carbon dioxide per capita is misleading because the human population really isn't significant-we are interested in pollution. And you could use to argue it indicates that it isn't "man-made" because it is almost inverse-the greater the population the less carbon dioxide per capita. Qatar with 2 million people is number one in carbon dioxide per capita-although it only produces 70,531 metric tons-whereas China and US produce 8 million and 5 million metric tons respectively and rank . That carbon dioxide per capita is useless and misleading. US ranked 12th and China 55th by carbon dioxide per capita and Qatar ranked number one. Pitiful. And to think people think Rubio is "ignorant" for even questioning global warming is man-made. If you examine the use of fossil fuels per country it doesn't associate with carbon dioxide per capita emissions either. Here is a wikipedia article listing scientist who are skeptical it is man-made: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_...

Bizkit
37292
Points
Bizkit 05/13/14 - 07:59 am
0
0
Whoever thinks climate change

Whoever thinks climate change is a settled scientific issue on that it is "man-made" is either ignorant of the facts or just an ideological idiot with a political agenda. Course there is a lots of support it is man-made but support isn't indicative of being correct. Keep the politics out of the climatology just like Le Maitre' kept religion out of physics and cosmology. Climatology isn't the same a meteorology and it is study in its infancy and needs time to mature.

corgimom
41614
Points
corgimom 05/13/14 - 08:42 am
0
0
LL, your assumptions are way

LL, your assumptions are way off.

This has nothing to do with Obama.

All drug use goes in cycles. It all goes by supply and demand, as does any business. There have been cycles of heroin for 50 years, and there will be more in the future.

But this-"Vinson said it appears that many users claim they started off taking prescription painkillers, such as Oxycontin. When the drug started to have less effect, they began melting and shooting up the painkillers before eventually moving on to heroin."

Melting and shooting up painkillers isn't about the drug starting to have less effect, it's about producing a quicker, more intense high.

As their addiction increases, and they want that quick high, they have to find cheaper drugs- and that's when heroin comes in.

corgimom
41614
Points
corgimom 05/13/14 - 08:43 am
0
0
But I did have to laugh when

But I did have to laugh when I saw the idea that Obama was to blame.

Heroin poppies are grown in far more places than Afghanistan, LL.

Willow Bailey
20606
Points
Willow Bailey 05/13/14 - 10:59 am
0
0
Rather than laughing,

I feel more like crying when I read that "legalizing drugs" will reduce crime. If anything, it will increase it.

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