Painkiller addicts turning to heroin when prescriptions run out
Bristol Police Detective Sgt. Chris Lennon of the narcotics division, says heroin is the second most prevalent drug his unit runs into, after marijuana.
He chalks this up to the fact that heroin is highly addictive, and it’s cheap and accessible. He said a dose of heroin can cost between $5 and $10. In the past, people would get addicted to heroin by experimenting. Lately, they’ve been getting accidentally addicted to prescription painkillers and turning to heroin for a cheaper alternative when their prescriptions run out.
Lennon said most of the heroin comes into Bristol from its surrounding cities – Hartford and Waterbury, and that’s after the heroin has traveled from other places like New York.
Det. Dave Carello, who’s been with the Bristol police for 27 years and the narcotics unit for 23, said he’s seen phases of certain drug use. In the 1980s, he saw a lot of powder cocaine then crack cocaine and very little heroin. There was more heroin in the 1990s because of the gang problems, and police found dealers in the housing units. After many sting operations, along with cracking down on the gang issues and violence, arrests are down.
“I think primarily, a lot of our information comes from citizens in town,” Lennon said, adding that residents know when something isn’t right in their neighborhood, and they want to keep the city safe, especially because many remember what Bristol was like when there was a greater gang issue.
Lennon and Carello know, however, that drugs are never going away because there will always be addicts and therefore dealers. They said drug dealers, like the city, have also evolved, now using cell phones, texting and walkie talkies. They’ve adapted to police methods, moving from dealing from cars to dealing in houses and apartments. Police now take out search warrants for houses and apartments, and some dealers have learned to sell while walking down the street. Drug arrests are now more spread apart, unlike when they were concentrated in certain neighborhoods.
“There’s never a point where we can say we’ve done enough,” Lennon said, adding that the police understand that addiction’s not a choice but a health issue. He said heroin arrests are often catalysts for the users to seek help.
Saturday, September 12, 2009 10:49 PM EDT
By FREESIA SINGNAM