Tonawanda News

Local News

May 18, 2013

Down the rabbit hole

(Continued)

In fact, they are becoming the rule.

"I think what the public needs to understand is that this isn’t an inner city problem," she said. "In fact, the opiate and heroin problem is suburban."

And while an Oxycontin tablet can cost between $40 and $80 from a drug dealer, the equivalent in heroin can be found for as cheaply as $10 — one reason local authorities are seeing so much of it.

Kasprzyk said a significant increase in the potency of heroin in the past decade also means the drug can be snorted and still produce a high, removing even more of the stigma associated with needles.

Nick Gazzoli, a drug counselor at Horizon, said many addicts begin by snorting heroin, but eventually turn to the needle.

"If you ask a person if they think they'll ever shoot heroin, they'll say no or 'I'm scared of needles,' but you pay for pills until you can't afford it anymore, because your tolerance goes up," he said. 

"Nine out of 10 people, their friend whose already (injecting heroin) shoots them up for the first time, and then they're shooting up. All your preconceived notions about what you would or wouldn't do fall out the window very quickly."

Tracking abuse

While the relationship between prescription opioid use and heroin represents what Kasprzyk called "a perfect storm," the problem still often begins with a single pill.

Local police departments have reported a rise in the number of arrests for possession of controlled substances in recent years.

In 2010, police in the City of Tonawanda made 40 arrests for illegal possession of controlled substances also including cocaine and other such drugs. In 2011 there were 51 arrests and in 2012, the number rose again, to 61.

City Police Lt. Fredric Foels said the majority of those arrests were for pills discovered out of their original prescription bottles, and usually in the wrong hands.

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