Colorado Drug Rehab....Heroin
HEROIN ALERT...High Potency Heroin hits the streets of Colorado
WINFIELD, Mo. - Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly, sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins.
An Associated Press review of drug overdose data shows that so-called "black tar" heroin - named for its dark, gooey consistency - and other forms of the drug are contributing to a spike in overdose deaths across the nation and attracting a new generation of users who are caught off guard by its potency.
"We found people who snorted it lying face-down with the straw lying next to them," said Patrick O'Neil, coroner in suburban Chicago's Will County, where annual heroin deaths have nearly tripled - from 10 to 29 - since 2006. "It's so potent that we occasionally find the needle in the arm at the death scene."
Authorities are concerned that the potency and price of the heroin from Mexico and Colombia could widen the drug's appeal, just as crack did for cocaine decades ago.
The Latin American heroin comes in the form of black tar or brown powder, and it has proven especially popular in rural and suburban areas.
Originally associated with rock stars, hippies and inner-city junkies, heroin in the 1970s was usually smuggled from Asia and the Middle East and was around 5 percent pure. The rest was "filler" such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, even brick dust. The low potency meant that many users injected the drug to maximize the effect.
But in recent years, Mexican drug dealers have improved the way they process poppies, the brightly colored flowers supplied by drug farmers that provide the raw ingredients for heroin, opium and painkillers such as morphine. Purity levels have increased, and prices have fallen.
Federal agents now commonly find heroin that is 50 percent pure and sometimes as much as 80 percent pure.
The greater potency allows more heroin users to snort the drug or smoke it and still achieve a sustained high - an attractive alternative for teenagers and suburbanites who don't want the HIV risk or the track marks on their arms that come with repeated injections.
"That has opened up heroin to a whole different group of users," said Harry Sommers, the agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency office in St. Louis.
Among the drug's casualties was William Henderson, a 29-year-old welder from rural Missouri who died in his sleep in 2009, hours after snorting heroin. A bear of a man at 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, he had tried the drug only a few times.
His wife recalled waking up to find the alarm buzzing. Her husband's body had turned blue, and his stomach was cold to the touch.
"I kept telling him, Will, you're late - get up!" said Amanda Henderson of Winfield, Mo., northwest of St. Louis. "But he wasn't moving, wasn't breathing. I called 911, but I knew it was too late." She and her three small boys were left destitute.
An increasing amount of the deadliest heroin appears to be coming from Mexico. Although the vast majority still arrives from overseas, Mexican dealers appear to be chipping away at the U.S. market.
As recently as two years ago, state and federal drug agents saw heroin arriving from Colombia, Asia and Mexico. But as the availability and quality of cocaine and methamphetamine have declined, Mexican smugglers have stepped up heroin shipments to the U.S.
Independent Mexican smugglers have the market largely to themselves because the major drug cartels only dabble in heroin, preferring to focus on locally grown marijuana and Colombian cocaine, according to a DEA official in El Paso, Texas. The agent spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns and his ongoing role in active drug investigations.
Heroin metabolizes in the body so quickly that medical examiners often cannot pinpoint the drug as a cause of death unless there is other evidence to back it up - say, a needle or a syringe found near the body. Also, many victims use multiple drugs and alcohol, so citing a specific substance is often impossible.
At the start of the decade, roughly 2,000 people a year died from heroin overdoses nationwide, according to records kept by the Centers for Disease Control. By 2007, the drug was blamed for at least 3,000 deaths in the 36 states that responded to records requests from the AP. Deaths from 2009 have not yet been compiled.
The AP contacted agencies in all 50 states, as well as officials in the District of Columbia and New York City, including medical examiners, coroners and health departments. The survey showed that heroin deaths rose 18.2 percent from 2007 to 2007, and 20.3 percent from 2006 to 2007.
Law enforcement officials and drug-treatment experts believe those statistics woefully undercount the actual number of deaths. And they fear the problem is getting worse: Seizures of heroin along the U.S.-Mexico border quadrupled from 2007 to 2009, from about 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to more than 190 pounds (86 kilograms).
In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, more than 20 deaths were blamed on heroin in 2009. DEA analysis of heroin purchased undercover found the drug was nearly 60 percent pure - the highest average purity in the U.S. At the same time, the price was among the lowest.
"This is consistent with how crack cocaine was introduced in the 1970s, when it was a high-purity product sold at a low price," said Carol Falkowski, director of the alcohol and drug abuse division for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
To hook new users, dealers are selling heroin cheap - often around $10 a bag. The new users included Billy Roberts, the 19-year-old son of a retired Chicago police officer. Last September, he slumped over dead of a heroin overdose at a friend's house.
John Roberts had moved his family to Will County when Billy was just entering high school.
"I thought I was moving away from problems like that," Roberts said. "These kids out here are being introduced to real serious drugs, dirt cheap, and they don't know how pure and dangerous they are."
Roberts now speaks to high school and civic groups about the dangers of heroin.
Independent Mexican smugglers like Jose Antonio Medina Arreguin pay the cartels for access to lucrative trade routes used to sneak drugs across the border and along U.S. highways.
Medina, also known as "Don Pepe," was arrested earlier this year in Mexico on suspicion of running a $10 million-a-month heroin smuggling business from the western Mexico state of Michoacan. With the permission of the area's powerful La Familia cartel, he is believed to have shipped as much as 440 pounds a month into the U.S. for street sales from San Diego to San Jose.
Glendale, Calif., often ranks among the safest cities of its size. But police are concerned about a growing heroin problem tied to Mexican street gangs from nearby Los Angeles. Gang members make the quick drive up Interstate 5 to deliver heroin straight to high school kids.
"They tell them, Just smoke it. It's just like smoking a cigarette. It's just like smoking marijuana,' " said Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz. Once the kids are hooked, "they've got a customer forever."
The trip up I-5 also leads to Oregon, where state Medical Examiner Karen Gunson said the heroin problem is worst in communities along the interstate. The state had 131 heroin-related overdose deaths last year - 42 more than three years earlier.
The dead simply didn't know the risks of the heroin they used, she said.
"We're seeing it sometimes 80 percent pure," Gunson said. "There's no FDA approval on this stuff". If you're using it every day, your chances grow and grow that it's going to kill you."
That's what happened to Nikki Tayon. A decade ago, she helped lead the high school softball team from Winfield to second place in the state. But it wasn't long after high school that she began using drugs such as marijuana and meth. A couple of years ago, she turned to heroin.
Last April, her mother, Sue Tayon, got a call from a ranger at Cuivre River State Park.
Nikki's purse and cell phone had been found, and rangers were looking for her. Hours later came the gruesome news: Nikki's body was discovered in a ditch. She was 28.
She had overdosed on heroin that was 90 percent pure, her mother said. Police said her boyfriend panicked and dumped Nikki from the car. No charges were filed.
"I know she was doing it," Sue Tayon said. "But she didn't deserve to die this way."
FACTS ABOUT HEROIN
"Heroin is a synthetic opiate drug that is highly addictive. It is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, known as 'black tar heroin.'"
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: Heroin (Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services).
"Chronic use of heroin leads to physical dependence, a state in which the body has adapted to the presence of the drug. If a dependent user reduces or stops use of the drug abruptly, they may experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms, which can begin as early as a few hours after the last drug administration, include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ('cold turkey'), kicking movements ('kicking the habit'), and other symptoms. Users also experience severe craving for the drug during withdrawal, precipitating continued abuse and/or relapse. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and typically subside after about a week; however, some individuals may show persistent withdrawal symptoms for months. Although heroin withdrawal is considered less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal."
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: Heroin (Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services)
"The withdrawal syndrome is self-limited and, although severely uncomfortable, is not life threatening. Minor metabolic and physical withdrawal effects may persist up to 6 mo. Withdrawal is typically managed in outpatient settings, unless patients require hospitalization for concurrent medical or mental health problems.
"Options for management of withdrawal include: Allowing the process to run its course ('cold turkey') after the patient's last opioid dose and administering another opioid (substitution) that can be tapered on a controlled schedule. Clonidine can provide some symptom relief during withdrawal."
Source: "Opioids," The Merck Manual, Section 15: Psychiatric Disorders, Chapter 198: Drug Use and Dependence, Merck & Co. Inc. (July 2007).
"In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog the blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs."
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, InfoFacts: Heroin (Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, September 2009)
HOW THESE HEROIN FACTS PERTAIN TO YOU and COLORADO
Heroin is a highly addictive drug and its use is a serious problem in America. Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to addiction. Anyone that is addicted to heroin will need help with the physical and emotional pain of withdrawal. Colorado Drug Rehab can help you whether you are looking for out-patient or residential drug treatment. Call 1-877-888-4802 to learn more about heroin addiction and to find effective drug programs that can take this "monkey off your back".
Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Street names for heroin include "smack," "H," "skag," and "junk." Other names may refer to types of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican black tar."
Heroin abuse and addiction has been an addiction problem for hundreds of years, but with the mixing of fentanyl (a substance that is reported to be 1,000 times the strength of morphine), heroin is now more dangerous than it has been before. Overdoses as related to the number of heroin users, is at an all time high. Heroin has also become more affordable to college students and others that aren't forced to steal to keep up with their heroin addiction. Purer heroin can be smoked or snorted while less pure heroin must be injected intravenously. Many high school and college age youth are feeling safe snorting heroin, but are claiming that they would never use needles. Facts have been distorted to help them think that they won't acquire an addiction to heroin without injecting the drug, but they soon find that to be far from the truth.
About eight years ago a new drug, buprenorphine, was introduced to those who are trying to "kick" a heroin or opiate habit and find the withdrawals too painful to endure or they find the cravings after withdrawal too compelling to stay off of opiates. Buprenorphine has been used for pain in most European for many years, but the methadone industry successfully kept it from being sold in American. After much evidence showed that it was a much better substitute for heroin and other opiates and that the withdrawal from buprenorphine was relatively easy for some to step-down their dosage, it was allowed to be given by physicians in the U.S. However, due to pressure from the methadone industry, a physician must take a small educational course before he is given the certification to write buprenorphine prescriptions and, the real limiting factor being that any physician so certified can only have up to 30 patients at any given time. Colorado Drug Rehab can report from first hand knowledge that the methadone industry's limitation on buprenorphine has protected their business well. Colorado Drug Rehab is here to protect the lives of those addicted to heroin and not any other "industry"!
Colorado's Heroin use in relation to National Trends
Speed, ice, meth and whatever other name there is for Methamphetamines capture the number 1 response of calls to Colorado Drug Rehab. Second to Meth is heroin!
This may be surprising to many in Coloraodo, but the facts below will help you understand how this highly addictive drug is being marketed and distrubted in our state.
To understand heroin use, abuse, deaths and morbidity in Colorado, you need to follow the money and become familiar with what Xalisco, Mexico has done to the heroin trade and sale in the US and in particular the Western States.
In contrast to Mexico's big cartels -- violent, top-down organizations that mainly enrich a small group -- the Xalisco networks are small, decentralized businesses. Each is run by an entrepreneur whose workers may soon strike out on their own and become his competitors. They have no all-powerful leader and rarely use guns, according to narcotics investigators and imprisoned former dealers.
Leaving the wholesale business to the cartels, they have mined outsize profits from the retail trade, selling heroin a tenth of a gram at a time. Competition among the networks has reduced prices, further spreading heroin addiction.
"I call them the Xalisco boys," said Dennis Chavez, a Denver police narcotics officer who has arrested dozens of dealers from Xalisco ( pronounced ha-LEES-ko ) and has studied their connections to other cities. "They're nationwide."
Their acumen and energy are a major reason why Mexican heroin has become more pervasive in this country, gaining market share at a time when heroin use overall is stable or declining, according to government estimates.
The Xalisco retail strategy has "absolutely changed the user and the methods of usage," said Chris Long, a police narcotics officer in Charlotte, N.C., where competition among Xalisco dealers has cut prices from $25 to $12.50 per dose of black-tar heroin. "It's almost like Wal-Mart: 'We're going to keep our prices cheap and grow from there.' It works." Xalisco networks have expanded despite federal investigations in 2000 and 2006 that sent almost 300 people to prison.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS FANCINATING STORY ABOUT HOW HEROIN IS BEING MARKETED IN COLORADO AND THROUGHOUT THE U.S. GO TO THE SOURCE OF THIS DATA AT:
Sun, 14 Feb 2010
Source: Los Angeles Times, Front Page, top of page, continued on page A26 ...Author: Sam Quinones
As mentioned on the homepage, Colorado ranks in the top percentile in all areas of drug use and abuse in relation to other states. Therefore, this natioinal data is certianly relavent to the problem in Colorado:
• Use of heroin rose from 136,000 in 2005 to 338,000 in 2006 showing an astronomical resurgence in the use of heroin.
• In 2006 there were 91,000 persons aged 12 or older who used heroin for the first time with an average age of 20.7!
• Most heroin addicts (74 percent) have been in treatment for their addiction more than once, with 24 percent having been in treatment five or more times.
The following statistics show that those seeking help for heroin in Colorado who are 12 or older has stayed constant for the past 10 years.
Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria ("rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes "on the nod," an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system.
Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration.
In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.
Tolerance, Addiction, and Withdrawal
Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal, although heroin withdrawal is considered much less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal.
With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.