Wednesday, April 16 2014 10:54 PM EDT2014-04-17 02:54:16 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --The Rangers are the Army's most elite soldiers who are put into some of the most dangerous situations in Afghanistan. In a story you'll only see on WDRB we got a rare look atMore >>
The Army Rangers choose Fort Knox as the location to prepare for the 3rd Battalion's 20th deployment to Afghanistan.More >>
Follow the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
Tweets from the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's a new drug of choice in Kentucky: Heroin.
It's easy to get, but the habit is hard to break -- and as WDRB's Valerie Chinn found in a special investigation, that makes it tough for police and addicts to fight.
Addicts like Ryan Vowell.
Vowell was a teenage soccer player and said he became addicted to pain pills at 16-years-old after they were prescribed for a head injury. He eventually moved to harder drugs and is now addicted to Heroin.
The 24-year-old finds himself again at Metro Corrections. He's just two days into the detox program.
"There is no other feeling like it in the world," Vowell said, referring to a heroin high. "I love it. Why would I be out here breaking the law for it if I didn't love it?"
"What did heroin give you?" WDRB's Valerie Chinn asked.
"I don't know," Vowell said. "I don't know anything different. I've been living that life so long."
When talking about detox, Vowell says, "It's rough," he added. "Fidgety, diarrhea, cramps cold chills. I'm coming off Heroin and Xanax."
Metro Corrections is seeing a huge number of inmates arriving with drug addictions: specifically Heroin. Mark Bolton, the director at the jail, said the numbers can be overwhelming.
"Is it surprising that you see numbers like this?" Chinn asked.
"We've seen on any given day, we're running 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 people on an active detox," Bolton said.
At the Kentucky State Police Lab, analysts have seen a large number of Heroin cases. In fact, it's doubled every year since 2010.
"These look like they might be lottery tickets that are folded up," said Jeremy Triplett, a KSP Lab Forensic Supervisor, as he shows Chinn how Heroin is packaged. "They are just folded into single-use, single-distributing packages, something we routinely see."
Last year, the KSP Lab analyzed nearly 1,350 specimens of Heroin. Most come in small quantities.
Testing the drug has becoming a daily routine. Files are full of Heroin evidence, including snorting straws and spoons used to heat the drug.
"It has been surprising...a little eye opening on how fast the uptick has taken for Heroin," Triplett said.
"You don't have to inject this stuff to get the effect," Bolton said. "Inmates here are telling me they are putting it energy drinks, they're snorting it, they're smoking it."
Louisville Metro Police have also seen a huge jump in Heroin cases. Police say Heroin is sold for about $100 per gram and users can get 4-6 hits from it. It's considered to be much cheaper than pain pills and that's why some users say Heroin is so attractive -- but just why Heroin has become the drug of choice for so many is debatable.
"Some people wonder if it's because of the pill mill regulations, but what we've seen in the numbers is heroin was on the increase before they even passed that bill," Triplett said.
It's a question WDRB's Valerie Chinn put to Vowell.
"You said everyone you know is doing Heroin," Chinn said. "How easy is it to get in Louisville and where you can you get it?"
"Everywhere," Vowell said. "It's everywhere...there is no stopping it."
But police disagree. Back in 2010, LMPD seized 1,355 grams. That jumped to nearly 2,300 in 2011, and last year, the number jumped to an astounding 9,400 grams of Heroin as officers work harder to get drugs off the streets.
Louisville Police made 120 arrests in 2010, 190 in 2011 and last year, it jumped to nearly 780.
Sgt. Richard Saint Blancard of the Kentucky State Police said parents should be on their guard.
"I think it's important that parents know that any kid at any location is susceptible to this because it doesn't take much to get that addiction," Blancard said.
And that's something Vowell knows all too well. He said eventually he's hoping to be court-ordered to a program to help him get over his addiction.
"Somebody is like, 'you've got to hit rock bottom,' but what is rock bottom?" he said. "So, I've been here before, and I wind up here again."
"Here's the point on Heroin and any other drug: wherever there is a need, it's going to find its way to the end user," Blancard said.
Police are hoping more education, more arrests and getting these drugs off the streets will help Kentucky overcome its Heroin problem.