Heroin Re-emerging In Laramie
Heroin has become a national topic of discussion lately, especially with the recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a suspected heroin overdose. According to the American Medical Association, heroin use has doubled in the last five years in America and emergency rooms across the nation have seen close to 250,000 heroin related visits.
In Laramie, heroin has become increasingly prevalent. “Heroin has been non-existent in Albany County for 30 years, now it is popping out of now where,” according to Under-Sheriff Robert Debree. Health care providers and law enforcement officials say that there are two speculated reasons for the rise of heroin use. First, there are increased restrictions that make it harder to obtain and abuse prescription medication. Prescription pills are now designed to have anti-crushing properties that make it extremely hard to snort the medication. Secondly, heroin is significantly cheaper than prescription drugs. According to Mark Holder, the Director of Behavioral Health, Oxycodone is $30 per pill and for that same amount, users can acquire six hits of heroin.
Because of its immense addictive properties, authorities say heroin is inherently more dangerous than most other drugs. An agent with the Drug Criminal Investigation says, “Once you do heroin, you literally have to chain a person to a pole to get them off the drug,”
Heroin exists in three forms: Black Tar, China White and Mexican Brown. (Pictures below)
So far in Albany County, Mexican Brown and Black Tar are the most common.
Unlike users of methamphetamine and other drugs, heroin addicts are more reclusive and therefore difficult to catch.
“The only reason we are seeing heroin in Laramie is because of EMS being called for overdoses. They (heroin addicts) are a very tight-knit group of people. We are only seeing a small portion of the heroin actually being sold and used in this community,” says Detective William Meyer.
There are, however, some telltale signs that a person is using heroin. Users typically:
- Have track marks on their extremities,
- Avoid eye contact,
- Have poor hygiene,
- Exhibit extreme loss of motivation,
- Nod when they speak,
- Resort to stealing or borrowing money consistently
One of the growing concerns for law enforcement is an extremely dangerous, codeine-derivative drug called “Krokodile,” which can be passed off as heroin. Manufactured in Russia, Krokodile is 10 times stronger than morphine, which makes it immensely more addictive and lethal than heroin. Users of this drug generally die within 18 to 24 months.
Currently, there are no official reports of Krokodile in the Rocky Mountain region, but officers acknowledge that there are rumors of the drug's presence. Det. Meyer says the potency and chemistry of Krokodile, make drug dealers ’more apt to pass it off as heroin.'
If Laramie residents discover drug paraphernalia, officers warn residents not to touch it, because inadvertent exposure to the drug is highly probable. Authorities urge citizens to call a doctor or a treatment center if there is suspicion of heroin use among friends or family, because it is virtually impossible for a heroin user to quit on their own.
Ivinson Memorial Hospital offers a crisis hotline, (307) 742- 0285, for residents who seek assistance and have questions about treatment options.