Heroin Addiction Ensnaring Rich, Suburban Population of Americans


Heroin in Charlotte has become so easy to get that dealers deliver to the suburbs and run specials to attract their young, professional, upper-income customers, USA Today reports. Lawyers, nurses, cops, and ministers are showing up in the detox ward at Carolinas Medical Center, desperate to kick an opiate addiction that often starts with powerful prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin. The center analyzed patients’ ZIP codes to find out where heroin had taken root. “Our heroin patients,” said the center’s Robert Martin, “come from the five best neighborhoods.”

A growing and more dangerous wave of drug addiction is sweeping the country, ensnaring a new population — several hundred thousand Americans — in the heroin trap and importing crime to the suburbs. Feeding the frenzy: Prescription painkiller addicts find their drug of choice in short supply, so heroin becomes their drug of last resort. As addicts move from legitimate prescriptions to the dirty world of dealers, needles and kitchen table chemists, health officials and police are noting sharp increases in overdoses, crime, and other public health problems. “When you switch to heroin, you don’t know what’s in there from batch to batch,” says Karen Simone of the Northern New England Poison Center, which in September documented a spike in heroin overdoses in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. “It’s a big jump to go to heroin. It may be strong; it may be weak. They don’t know what they are getting. Suddenly, the whole game changes.”

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