Heroin Use Reaches ‘Epidemic’ Level in New England

The overdose of TV-star Cory Monteith last week was a high-profile reminder of the troubling rising trend: heroin appears to be making a comeback. TheNew York Times reports that heroin use has become particularly prevalent in New England, where the drug has reached the streets of big cities and rural towns alike.

Addicts appear to have turned to heroin as a cheaper alternative to addictive prescription painkillers, which have gotten harder to come by in recent years. Many addicts are in their teens and early twenties, and their habits leaving a wake of destruction in their path: increasingly, children are being abandoned to foster care, homes are lost to fed-up landlords, and parents are being forced to watch their sons and daughters turn into people they can hardly recognize. Doctors and law enforcement officials, meanwhile, say they feel utterly powerless to stop the spread of the drug.

As long as the supply of heroin continues to be this abundant, the demand will likely continue to match it. The heroin that makes it to New England comes largely from Colombia, via Mexico. The more seizures law enforcement makes along the border, the more operations seem to pop up.

In Maine, the number of recorded heroin-related deaths has tripled in the last two years. In New Hampshire, there were 40 heroin-related casualties in 2012, up from just seven a decade before. Vermont and New Jersey have also experienced major increases in the number of hospitalizations and rehab center admittance.