Heroin on the rise, detectives say it is a never-ending battle

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Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Chad Darnall

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. - Heroin is on the rise leaving overdoses, addiction and fear behind.   It is deadly, potent and making a comeback.

The weekend death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman reminds us just how dangerous heroin can be.  A yearly government drug survey shows in 2002, 166,000 Americans admitted to using heroin.  Ten years later, that number doubled to 355,000.

To put it in perspective, in 2012 the McCracken County Sheriff's Department only had leads in heroin cases.  There were not any heroin arrests made that year.  We are only one month into 2014 and the department has already made six heroin arrests.

Drug Detective Ryan Norman said it is like fighting a never-ending battle.

"People build a dependence on it and the longer they use it the more heroin they need to use to get the same high," said Norman.

It is cheap, it is everywhere and it is potent.

"Addictive and deadly," said Norman.

Norman said heroin is a draw that is hard to resist.

"If it's the first time that they've done it they have no clue how much they should use. Define that fine line between just getting high or winding up in the hospital or dead," said Norman.

The recent up-tick in heroin has prevention specialist Ellen Walsh concerned.

"Scary to think that the substances are out there and people are buying them and kids are going to start getting them. You start to use before the age of 15 and your four times more likely to have problems as an adult," said Walsh.

It is a deadly recipe.

"You can overdose the very first time," said Walsh.

It is a habit that is hard to shake.

"It's a compulsion an addiction it's a disease," said Walsh.

Walsh said unfortunately, heroin users are starting at a younger age.  She said it is important that parents be aware of what their kids are doing, watch for changes in behavior, and a difference in their grades.

Norman said slurred speech, slow movements, and showing no concern are symptoms of heroin abuse.  He said the largest amount the McCracken County Sheriff's Department has seized this year has been nine grams.  That has a street value of about $36,000.

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