SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- New details on an alarming increase in heroin related deaths and crimes brought a regional task force together to talk about its battle.
Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter said more than 15 people have died and more than 40 people have overdosed on heroin this year alone.
These numbers are significantly different from last year where only one person died and only 17 were harmed by overdosing.
Carter said the number of heroin related deaths, injuries and crimes has steadily increased this year leaving him unnerved by the magnitude of a situation hes never dealt with.
"Not like this, no. Not in the 11 years I've been here as sheriff. It's never been this prevalent," said Shenandoah County Sheriff Timothy Carter.
Carter isn't the only one caught of guard, so is substance abuse counselor Ginger Neff.
"It's really scary, and it's alarming," said Neff.
Carter said heroin is unusual for the region and the users are not who you may expect.
"Many of the people that are being arrested and charged with these offences are first time offenders, people without criminal histories," said Carter.
Neff said she openly discusses drug use with her patients and hears about marijuana, alcohol and prescription medicines all the time.
"They freely share that with me, but in terms of randomly, recreationally discuss heroin use, it just simply doesn't come up," said Neff.
Carter said users are getting the drug from the Baltimore area, but not in mass quantities.
"It's not really a trafficking issue persay on the interstate. we're not getting truckloads of it. it's individuals going to get it for a group of friends or other users," said Carter.
Carter wants to resolve this issue on all fronts.
"What other services can be provided, or are being provided, or need to be improved upon. we're trying to look at it more comprehensively than just from an enforcement standpoint," said Carter.
He said that certain drugs move in and out of the area, but he's never seen the number of heroin-related deaths so high.
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