Thursday, February 06, 2014

Heroin problem keeps growing in rural America

As some states crack down on prescription drug abuse and pill pipelines, heroin use is rising, the drug has become easily accessible in rural America and officials are scrambling to keep the drug out of their towns. In a story for The Tennessean, Tom Wilemon looks at the growing problem in rural Tennessee.

The drug is widely used in Nashville and surrounding towns, said Dr. Chapman Sledge, chief medical officer of the Cumberland Heights treatment center in Nashville. Sledge told Wilemon: "I worked this weekend and I saw more heroin-addicted patients this weekend than I saw in the 10 years prior to moving up here. Seriously, I would see one or two a year. I probably had six or eight this weekend whose drug of choice is heroin. It is rampant.”

Patients addicted to opiates increased 10 percent in Tennessee from 2012 to 2013, said Ben Middleton, chief operating officer for clinic services at Centerstone, a nonprofit that runs outpatient treatment clinics, Wilemon writes. The agency does not keep specific data on heroin use. In the small town of Corinth, Miss., just across the border from Tennessee and Alabama, two heroin-related deaths were reported within 10 days of each other in January.

Heroin users come in all forms, Sledge said. He told Wilemon, “The stereotypical heroin addict, you can forget about it. These are people it would never cross your mind. It’s good kids using a drug that has an extremely high potential for addiction and also a really high potential for overdose.” (Read more)

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