Heroin Use on the Rise in the Valley

Published: Jul. 16, 2015 at 4:38 PM EDT
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Alarming new numbers about drug use in the United States.

During the last decade, the number of heroin users in the U.S. has grown by more than 60 percent, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control.

Heroin use has more than doubled among whites and women.

Law enforcement leaders say the drug has become more popular in the Valley.

Capt. Mike Martin with the Waynesboro Police Department said that opiate abuse and the drug's low cost is at the heart of the problem.

"The increase in heroin is very concerning. Number one, it's a very dirty drug. It's most often injected and what we run into is the cross contamination of folks using needles, using dirty needles," said Martin. "Heroin has kind of filled that void that's been created by our prescription opiate enforcement."

A law passed this month in Virginia now allows law enforcement officers to carry Naloxone, a drug that can save the lives of people who overdose on heroin. The prescription drug counteracts the effects of heroin.

From 1996 to 2010, the drug has reversed more than 10,000 overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Martin said Waynesboro police may carry the drug in the future.

"We're very far away from having an epidemic of heroin. If it becomes more and more prevalent you may see us carry them, it all depends," said Martin. "There's always the liability with administering a drug you know because we've had so few overdoses we don't carry it currently but it's possible that we will carry them in the future."

Virginia is the 24th state to pass this type of law.

While area hospitals said they haven't seen an increase in overdoses, the national death rate quadrupled during the last decade.