Surge in heroin addiction shifts to Metro Detroit teens
Heroin addiction and overdose have been a growing trend in Detroit and surrounding suburbs for the past decade, with a shift toward teens and
young adults, say health care professionals and social workers.
Fears were renewed this month in southeast Michigan when eight presumed heroin overdoses, including
two fatalities, were reported over two days in Washtenaw County. Police said one person was found dead by emergency responders and another died after being taken to the hospital.
Many treatment specialists and law enforcement officials say heroin’s resurgence
in the past few years is directly related to the availability of prescription opiates: Users get hooked on the prescription medicine, then shift to heroin because it’s cheaper.
“I’ve started calling these opiate painkillers gateway drugs, in a sense, because a lot of people don’t just start with heroin, there’s a path they take to get there,” said Special Agent Rich Isaacson with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Detroit Division.
According to the most recent data available from the Michigan Department of Community Health, there were 584 opiate overdose deaths in the state in 2010, of which 215 were related to heroin use. The deaths were spread out among nearly every county in the state.