When representatives from one North Carolina county chose to crack down on prescription drug abuse, law enforcement officers predicted that a rise in heroin use in the area would occur. Those statements, made in September 2012, seemed eerily prophetic; authorities say that Brunswick County is now flooded with heroin. In 2013, the Wilmington Police Department reportedly arrested 214 people for heroin possession. Just 10 years earlier, only 12 people were arrested annually for such drug crimes.
Experts say that some drug users may be switching to heroin because it provides similar effects as medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Physicians in the area have cut down on prescribing those drugs, and law enforcement agencies have targeted drug crimes involving prescription medication. Now, authorities say that heroin prices in the area have reached rock-bottom rates, allowing users to achieve a similar high at a discounted price.
Other factors may also have contributed to the rise in heroin-related drug crimes in the region. A new generation of powder heroin has made inroads in recent years. That type of heroin does not require injection, but instead can be consumed by snorting, eating, smoking and other less-invasive methods. As a result, authorities say that the stigma that surrounded heroin as an IV drug has now lessened. Teens and college students may see heroin as an acceptable alternative to other street drugs.
North Carolina residents who are facing drug charges for possession or drug trafficking may benefit from the assistance of a local criminal defense attorney. With the rise in opiate prevalence in the area, more defendants may be needing the services of such legal professionals. Criminal defense attorneys work to protect the rights of their clients, providing them with additional information about their legal options after drug charges have been brought.
Source: Star News Online, “After prescription crackdown, cheap heroin filling void” Adam Wagner, Mar. 16, 2014