BY CADY KUZMICH
Clifton Park — CAPteens, the youth-run branch of CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services in Clifton Park, has organized a discussion about heroin’s prevalence in the community at the Clifton Park – Halfmoon Public Library Wednesday, Feb 24, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
The discussion will feature interviews with people who have been directly impacted by the scourge of heroin and a question and answer session. Information tables from various law enforcement and treatment programs will also be in available.
The fact that heroin is on the rise in Upstate New York is no surprise by now – however just how much it has risen may be unclear to some and the notion that it doesn’t happen in your own neighborhood no doubt remains.
James Norton of the Southern Saratoga County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council said that statewide from 2004 to 2013, the number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction in New York state was up 136 percent. The numbers for Upstate New York were even more stark — treatments for heroin addiction increased by 222 percent during that same timeframe.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.” As a result, the ASAM said the rate of heroin overdose deaths “nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2013.”
During those thirteen years, ASAM said “the rate of heroin overdose showed an average increase of six percent per year from 2000 to 2010, followed by a larger average increase of 37 percent per year from 2010 to 2013.”
The link between opioid painkillers and heroin use is clear. The Center for Disease Control said “45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.” ASAM reported “94 percent of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were ‘far more expensive and harder to obtain.’”
Norton said the demographic most at-risk for heroin addiction are people ages 18 to 25. According to the Center for Disease Control, heroin use “more than doubled” among that demographic in the last ten years.
“You can become addicted just trying it once,” he said. Norton added, “Heroin and prescription opiate problems are quite a bit larger in Saratoga County than most people would expect.”