Heroin Use by Teens on the Increase

Over the past few years heroin has slowly entrenched itself in the community as a drug-of-choice for illicit drug users.  Adding to this disturbing fact are the demographics of these addicts:  Many new heroin users are teenagers.  A local investigation, which concluded last month netting 32 pounds of seized heroin, shed new light on this rising problem. 

In an effort to combat the rise of heroin use by teens, the Chandler Police Department is urging parents to educate themselves on this deadly drug.  Caregivers should also seek out the signs and symptoms of users and understand that early detection is crucial.  

The following are a few facts about heroin: 

Heroin, a narcotic analgesic, falls under the same drug classification as well known prescription drugs such as oxycontin, vicodin, and percocet.  All narcotic analgesics are opiate based or are a derivative of opium.  Opium and its many derivatives are physically addictive.  Excessive doses are often lethal. 

Heroin is dark brown or black in color.  Its texture is pasty, similar to a Tootsie Roll.  Heroin is typically diluted or cut prior to distribution.  As a result, the potency of heroin varies by the cut. 

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of heroin (or any opiate derivative) use: 

Heroin slows down the body’s functions.  An addict under the influence of heroin will appear to be fighting sleep; and their movements, including speech, slow down.  An addict in withdrawal will exhibit flu-like symptoms such as body tremors, profuse sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Chronic users will noticeably lose weight, withdraw from family and friends, and lose interest in everything except their next high. 

Traditionally, heroin addicts are intravenous users.  These users tend to wear clothing that conceals injection sites on their arms and legs.  Over time, an addict will become creative on injection sites to hide their use. 

However, many users today are smoking heroin.  These users inhale the vapor of heroin through a straw off of a piece of aluminum foil that they are heating.  The heroin remnants off of the used foil resemble streaks from a black marker. 

Since opium and its many derivatives are physically addictive, professional treatment programs are essential to breaking heroin addiction.  If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one, the Arizona Region of Narcotics Anonymous is a good way to start.  They are available in the east valley at (480) 897-4636, or visit their website at EastValley_PR@Arizona-NA.org

For additional information, please contact Detective Seth Tyler at (480) 782-4105.