The rash of recent heroin overdoses in Parkersburg is a troubling trend. During the past two weeks, emergency medical personnel have responded to five incidents of possible heroin overdoses. One person died of what is a probable heroin overdose.
The latest incident was this past Saturday when EMTs and police officers responded to an emergency call at an apartment complex in the north end. A 30-year-old woman was found unconscious in the apartment's bathroom. She was revived and taken to the hospital and is expected to survive. Suspected heroin paraphernalia was found on the bathroom floor near the woman.
Heroin, an opiate drug synthesized from morphine, has been with us since before the 20th century. While many people associate heroin addiction with the late 1960s and 1970s, it never completely went away in the decades that followed.
During the past decade, as laws and police have targeted prescription drugs, many users have turned to heroin as an inexpensive alternative. This has allowed heroin to once again make a steady rise as the drug of choice for many people.
It's certainly not only happening here. In Cincinnati, for instance, police have seen a 900 percent increase in the amount of heroin confiscated between 2010 and 2010. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that in 2011, 120 residents of that city died because of heroin and prescription drug overdoses.
So we cannot expect Parkersburg to be immune from these problems. And area law enforcement agencies are not surprised by the influx of heroin here. "The number one and number two (drug) problems are meth and heroin," Parkersburg police Sgt. Greg Collins said.
As we have seen in the past, this will not become some passing fancy. Heroin use will create more addicts and destroy more lives. And if its usage continues to grow, these five recent overdoses-and the one resulting death-will not be the last we will read about.
"We are trying to find out who the dealers are and where the stuff is coming from," Collins said. "That's all we can continue to do."
Heroin is extremely addictive. We can only hope that our already overburdened police will be able to find and arrest the ones bringing this poison into the area before more people become addicted.
We also hope users can find the will to get the help they need-before it is too late.