It only takes seconds to fill a syringe with a lethal dose of heroin. Tuesday night’s dose can provide a pleasurable high, while Friday’s dose can have a 20-something year old discovered dead, foaming at the mouth.
I’ve had acquaintances that one would never suspect partake in such reckless behavior. I also had a friend die from a heroin overdose, and no one, except his suppliers, even knew he used the drug. While other drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine and meth can take years to kill someone, heroin can take seconds!
In recent years heroin has seen a huge growth in popularity among younger segments of our population. Back in the seventies we had images of junkies in a SOHO stairwell strung-out from years of drug abuse. Today, America’s heroin user is a high school or college student- well educated and from an affluent community.
On the local level, sheriffs, police chiefs and coroners, individually, are reporting:
- A heroin death a week since the start of 2013 in Jefferson Parish.
- Heroin-related deaths have tripled since 2012.
- Heroin use has reached epidemic proportions.
- Jefferson Parish leads the state in overall heroin deaths – 87 fatalities in 2012.
One explanation for this spike in heroin use is Louisiana’s implementation of a better tracking system for prescribing and selling pharmaceutical CDSs, which is reducing the street supply of those drugs. People who were once addicted to the great supply and accessibility to prescription opioids like Oxycodone (Oxycontin) and Vicodin are now turning to heroin for relief. Heroin is cheaper, does not require a prescription and readily available.
In 2001 the Louisiana Legislature passed a law reducing a mandatory life sentence with no benefit of parole or suspension of sentence for heroin distribution to a minimum mandatory sentence of 5 years and maximum of 50 years. Some lawmakers are now regretting this action. In the current 2014 Legislative Session, two bills have been introduced, SB9 and SB87, which will effectively raise the maximum sentence for heroin distribution and possession with intent to distribute to 99 years and raise the minimum sentence to 10 years with the requirement that 5 years be served without parole. I commend the legislature for attempting to punish the distributors more aggressively rather than the users (addicts). Nevertheless, I doubt that this law will have the desired effect, i.e. reduce heroin use. I do not believe that longer periods of incarceration produce lower risks of recidivism. In fact, I believe the contrary. When someone is incarcerated, after a period of time any potential for rehabilitation ceases and the risk of recidivism increases. Prisoners become too institutionalized for society after a while. What was once believed to be a solution to a problem only produces additional problems. Furthermore, for every individual who is incarcerated for heroin distribution, there is someone else waiting to step in place as a distributor regardless of the potential criminal penalties.
If you or someone you know needs addiction help of any kind, please contact a local physician or treatment center. Modern medicine has created many tools and solutions to assist heroin addicts get clean.
If you are caught in the web of Heroin and currently facing legal troubles, please feel free to contact me. I have helped many individuals with heroin distribution and possession charges.
5/12/2014 Update: I was wrong. The legislation is also trying to change the sentence for possession of heroin to a mandatory minimum of 5 years, even for a first time offender. Shame on you! To be continued…