Heroin: An eye-opening look at the deadly epidemic spreading thr - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Heroin: An eye-opening look at the deadly epidemic spreading through Louisville

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A 29-year-old woman agreed to share her struggle with heroin if we didn't show her face or her name. A 29-year-old woman agreed to share her struggle with heroin if we didn't show her face or her name.
The officers we were with found needles on a 29-year-old woman who was being arrested for a warrant. The officers we were with found needles on a 29-year-old woman who was being arrested for a warrant.
Needles found on the person of a woman who was being arrested for an outstanding warrants while we were riding along with a police officer. Needles found on the person of a woman who was being arrested for an outstanding warrants while we were riding along with a police officer.
Police told us they found a needle in Dunn's bag. Police told us they found a needle in Dunn's bag.
The Healing Place says heroin is the drug of choice for about nine out of every 10 people who walk in the door. The Healing Place says heroin is the drug of choice for about nine out of every 10 people who walk in the door.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Heroin is dragging people into dark and deadly addictions and leaving them with few options.

 Louisville Metro Police Officer Tate Mason has seen its powerful hold first hand on the job. 

"Pretty much anybody could be using it," he said. "Within the last year or two, the increase in heroin has just been phenomenal."

He patrols Old Louisville and several surrounding neighborhoods. We asked him to show us the problem and rode along with him one night in late October. 

We were there when officers we found needles on a 29-year-old woman who was being arrested on a warrant. She agreed to share her struggle with heroin if we didn't show her face or her name. 

"I started on pills," she explained. "When I was younger I had surgery. (It) started out you know, doctor assisted and just kept going from there. Now, heroin is cheaper and easier to access." 

She says she's become a prostitute and a thief to feed her addiction and admitted she was high during the interview. 

When asked if she ever thought she would end up addicted to heroin, she responded, "I always said that I would never, actually." 

She grew up in rural Harrison County, Indiana. She's an example of how heroin is no longer just a inner city drug. It's reached the country and the suburbs. It's inside the homes you'd least expect.

"I had a good childhood. My parents gave me everything I wanted or needed," said Adam Dicken, a recovering heroin addict. 

He grew up in the east end. The Ballard High School graduate started regularly using pain pills when he was about 18, around same time he left for college at Indiana University. 

"I got degrees in finance and accounting," Dicken said. "I started a career at an accounting firm here locally." 

His addiction cost him that high paying job and his apartment. He lost control of his life and started using heroin. 

"At one point, it seemed like there was nobody that I knew that wasn't using pills or heroin or something," Dicken explained. 

He's been clean for about eight months thanks to help from the Healing Place, an addiction recovery center. 

Five years ago, heroin users were rare at the facility. Now it's the drug of choice for about nine out of every 10 people who walk in the door.

Chief Program Officer Pat Fogarty says he's encountered heroin users as young as 15. He says kids are experimenting with drugs at a younger age and using harder drugs sooner.

Heroin is extremely addictive and has lost its social stigma.  

"The East End is the fastest growing population. We're getting clients from Indian Hills, 40207 zip codes," Fogarty told WDRB News. "It is in the East End and in fact, drug dealers in the East End now have the little Squares that you put in your cell phone and take credit cards to sell so it's really become mainstream." 

A deadly, mainstream drug

According to the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy, there were 204 overdose deaths in Jefferson County last year, which is up by 12 from 2013. 

"I overdosed at home with my son, ended up getting CPS on us, he was in jail. I mean, we lost everything," Jennifer Dunn said about using heroin. 

Back on our ride with police, officers were sent on another call to check on a couple for acting suspiciously. But Dunn and her boyfriend claimed they were clean. 

"I almost died," Dunn recalled about overdosing. "Came home from the hospital and did more dope and then still had some the next day." 

"I would take money from my mother," Steven Goode said. "I would take money out of my mother's purse." 

They said they're trying to get their lives back on the right path. 

"Destroy your life, destroy your families, if you want to lose everything you have, do heroin," Goode explained. 

As we returned to the squad car, police told us they found a needle in Dunn's bag. She said she didn't know it was in there and blamed it on a friend. 

Heroin is leaving addicts with few options. 

"I definitely don't think it's better right now from my perspective," Officer Mason said.  

Dicken found recovery. 

"I still have all the opportunity to get back into life," he said. 

There's also incarceration and death, or something in between. 

"After a while, you're nothing but a slave to the drug," the 29-year-old woman under arrest explained. "It's hell. If I were to describe hell, that would be my life right now." 

If you're concerned that a family member or friend is using heroin, there are some signs you may detect. 

Pat Fogarty, with the Healing Place, passed along this information: 

  • If a loved one is "sick" a lot with flu-like symptoms this is one sign.  Heroin is relatively fast acting and most need to use a few times a day to prevent going into withdrawal.  The user feels terrible and matches this with their looks.  
  • Also, when a heroin user is going through withdrawals, their pupils can become very dilated.  When someone is on heroin, their pupils become restricted and pinpoint.  These are two very good methods for recognizing withdrawal and one who is high on opiates.
  • The textbook answer will be lack of motivation, legal troubles, family troubles, etc... With heroin use, people have a hard time functioning in a normal capacity as the chase for the next high consumes their life.  

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