MPD: 755% Increase in Heroin Seizures

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Mon, August 27 2012 at 6:42 PM, Updated: Mon, August 27 2012 at 7:23 PM

Police said heroin is making a big comeback in the Rogue Valley. In the first six-months of this year heroin seizures are up 755% from 2011.

That's a result of a larger heroin bust this year, but officers said the disturbing trend is still skyrocketing.

Over the weekend Oregon State Police seized 55-pounds of heroin on I-5 near Ashland.

Medford Police said heroin use is on a big uptick and they're running into it on almost a daily basis.

"We are seeing more and more heroin than we've ever seen before," began Lieutenant Mike Budreau of the Medford Police Department.

"I would absolutely say it's unprecedented growth," he said.

Heroin, too rapidly becoming the drug of choice.

"The addictive properties of heroin plus the overdose toxicity and death of heroin make it the most powerful drug abuse going on," said Dr. Darryl Inaba, Director of Clinical and Behavioral Health Services at the Addictions Recovery Center in Medford.

Dr. Inaba said they've seen more people coming in addicted to heroin.

"We've been on a methamphetamine and cocaine era for about 20-30 years. Now it's time to cycle into the heroine era," said Dr. Inaba.

Police said the rise in prescription drug and heroin abuse go together.

"Prescription medication and heroin, surprisingly go hand in hand. They're very similar type drugs [...] Oxycodone is a derivative of heroin," said Lt. Budreau.

Dr. Inaba said as pharmaceutical firms have tried to reformulate their medication to make it harder to abuse, it inadvertently lead to a return to heroin for people who are opiate addicts.

Meantime, officers said Medford's location isn't helping either.

"It's coming into our area via I-5 [...] we have so much of it here," said Lt. Budreau.

Officials said most of the heroin is coming from Mexico and Southern California and with so much supply, it's becoming cheaper and easier to get.

According to the Oregon State Medical Examiner, heroin topped the list for drug overdose deaths last year.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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