Meth, not heroin, on rise in Hazard

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter aholliday@civitasmedia.com

March 26, 2014

HAZARD— Dee Dee Ramone, Janis Joplin, and Billie Holiday—these names have many things in common, including their fame, musical talents, and untimely deaths due to a long-forgotten drug that has recently resurfaced in popularity—heroin. And though a surge in heroin usage has been seen nationwide, Hazard may not, in fact, be seeing that same rise.

Lt. Paul Campbell with the Hazard Police Department said he has not seen an increase in heroin arrests in the city.

“I would say for the most part it’s stayed pretty steady. I don’t know that there’s a drop or an increase,” he said.

According to a report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, heroin contributed to 129 overdose deaths in the state in 2012—a 207 percent increase from the previous year.

Campbell said he could understand why there would be a rise in heroin usage based on the fact that prescription pill abuse is being severely cracked down on by officials across the country, and new abuse deterrents have been added to the production of stronger pain medications such as Oxycontin.

“I’ve spoken to some addicts who’ve said it’s just as hard to get off of prescription medication as it is heroin, that there’s similar experience from the two,” Campbell said. “I could see that by those deterrents being in place that it would be harder for the user to get the same high and would have to move to something else. I don’t know that in particular it’s been heroin for us.”

Campbell said the HPD may see four or five heroin cases a year, however has seen nearly double that in the last year in methamphetamine cases.

“The methamphetamine definitely outweighs the heroin cases, without a doubt,” he said.

The Herald reported last year that in Perry County, the number of methamphetamine cases, both possession and making, were up, with nearly a case being reported each month.

“We’ve always expected it to hit here and we just knew that it was a matter of time, and I think now’s the time,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the HPD generally only deals with cases of selling meth in the city.

“Occasionally we’ll get a report of a meth lab, but for the most part it’s been sales of methamphetamine,” he said.

Campbell said indicators of a meth lab include multiple chemical agents seen around the location and a strong ammonia odor, adding that is anyone suspects there is a meth lab in their area they should contact their local law enforcement immediately.

“That’s the only way we can catch them is if we know about them,” he said.

Amelia Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.