Heroin Taking up Residence in Atlanta’s Suburbs
Heroin use, along with the use of other opioids (e.g. opiates taken as pain medications), has been on the rise in the U.S. for the past 10 years. Consequently, the nation as a whole has faced an unprecedented increase in the number of people affected by opioid-related disorders and opioid-related overdoses and deaths.
What About Heroin Use In Atlanta?
A heroin-related crisis seems to have erupted here in Metro Atlanta.
- Heroin represented 5.8% of primary treatment admissions in the first half of 2013 compared with 3.3% of admissions in 2011, and 4.3% in 2012
- Individuals seeking treatment in the first half of 2013 were younger and more likely to be Caucasian than in previous years
- Proportions of primary heroin treatment admissions age 18–28 increased from 57.7 percent of total admissions in 2011, and 58.4 percent in 2012, to 63.6 percent of all admissions in the first half of 2013
- Drug reports that state heroin to be among drug items seized and analyzed in National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) laboratories in the Atlanta area increased from 328 in 2011, to 512 in 2012, and to an annualized total of more than 700 drug reports for 2013 (NIDA)
- In DeKalb County, heroin deaths doubled from 2012 through 2013. In Gwinnett County during this time, the deaths more than tripled
- In Cobb County, from 2011 through 2012, heroin deaths nearly doubled
Some of Atlanta’s most affluent communities have recently been experiencing sharp spikes in drug-related deaths, particularly among their youth. According to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, between 2011 and 2014, the number of heroin-related deaths in that county jumped from 19 to 77. A common misconception surrounding this troubling phenomenon is the notion that the problem is confined to the areas in Fulton County of lower socioeconomic status.
This is simply not true. Many of the opiate-related deaths, and a large number of reports of heroin addiction with the youth have come from the wealthier communities of Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton, Sandy Springs, Cumming, and Roswell. Similarly, suburbs in other counties such as Gwinnett, Cobb, and Forsyth County have also experienced dramatic rises in heroin-related crime and overdoses.
One of the catalysts contributing to heroin’s rise in popularity in the suburbs has been its relatively low cost, especially compared to prescribed opiates, and the ease of availability. “The Bluff” region of Metro Atlanta has become well-known for its heroin dealers.
Many users from suburban areas are making their way to the City of Atlanta to acquire drugs while, at the same time, dealers are traveling to the suburbs to meet their clients. In fact, the number of recent drug busts in areas like Duluth and Sandy Springs point to the fact that dealers want to make purchases easier for their clients by meeting them where they live.
Thus, it is no surprise that addiction treatment centers have witnessed dramatic rises in inquiries, primarily by younger people, for heroin-related issues. In addition, law enforcement has simultaneously experienced increases in drug-related arrests of young adults. These young adults are children of grieving parents; they have fallen victim to the terribly addictive and harmful substances that are being distributed throughout the area. Fulton County D.A., Paul Howard said, “It’s gotten so bad that many parents are reporting that you can get on the telephone and order heroin delivered to your own home. The police are having a hard time fighting it because it’s difficult for a parent to say ‘come on over here and arrest my own child’”.
While large-scale initiatives are taking place to quell opioid misuse, you can still seek immediate help for yourself or for a loved one. Inquire about treatment options or an opiate-addiction research study at the Institute for Advanced Medical Research. The Founder and Medical Director, Dr. Angelo Sambunaris, says “The rapidly increasing presence of heroin among youth in the local community is troubling. Crime has escalated, our school systems have suffered, and parents are losing their children to these dangerous and addictive drugs.”
To learn more, and to see if you or a loved one may qualify for a no-obligation, no- cost opiate addiction research study, contact the Institute for Advanced Medical Research at 770-817-9200.
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