Heroin abuse is on the uptick

It seems that heroin is making a lot more headlines lately. Is this the new problem drug for our area?

— No name given

"Problem drug" is a bit redundant in this case, wouldn't you say?

You are correct in your assessment that heroin is becoming more of an issue for law enforcement. The Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement Task Force — MADGE — has noticed an increase. But methamphetamine is still the bigger local problem.

"It definitely is, but heroin is on an uptick," said Lt. Brett Johnson of the Medford Police Department. "It's cheap, it's available, and it's so addictive."

In 2012, MADGE seized 101 pounds and 5 ounces of metham-phetamine. Of that amount, 70 pounds came from one seizure, a shipment bound for the Portland/Vancouver area. Local police seized 54 pounds and 1 ounce of heroin. Most of that also is because of one seizure, which netted 47 pounds of the drug. But even without that seizure, it still would have meant an increase from the 6 pounds, 8 ounces MADGE seized in 2011.

"Heroin's not going anywhere, and it just seems to be increasing," Johnson said.

Many heroin addicts make the switch from pain pills such as Vicodin.

"You can only get so many from your doctor," said Detective Sgt. Brent Mak. "The pharmacies keep really good tabs on that."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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