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Heroin use on the rise in suburban, affluent Placer County

When most people think of heroin they think of the dirty streets and high crime of the big cities, not suburbia. In fiscal year 2011, almost 14 percent of patients in the Placer County drug treatment clinics admitted to using heroin. That figure is up from 8.5 percent from the previous year. Public health officials say that many of these people started out as teens abusing prescription pain killers they found around their homes.

Everyone from drug officers, addiction experts and former addicts agree that it is much easier to transition from abusing pain killers to becoming strung out on heroin, and it's much more common than many parent's might think. One recovering addict who participated in a workshop in Auburn to discuss how drugs affect teens said in only a few months he went from popping pain pills to crushing the pills and smoking them to get high.

Once he was addicted it was a short transition to using heroin because, he said you will do anything to keep the withdrawal symptoms under control. Another addict discussed how once he was addicted it took over his life. The physical pain from opiate withdrawal was so intense that he began stealing wallets and people's identities to get high. He was released from prison in 2011, after spending two years locked up for his crimes.

A Roseville drug officer said that the vast majority of robberies, burglaries and in-home invasions are related to drug crime and addicts trying to find their next fix. Placer County law enforcement and drug treatment providers say the increase in the use of heroin is extremely alarming and the problem could be worse than what the numbers indicate.

Being charged with a drug crime carries stiff penalties, if convicted. Beyond being imprisoned you could be facing years of difficulties in trying to get a job, rent an apartment even get a secondary education.

If you or a family member has been charged with a drug crime or are facing any criminal charge, contact a criminal defense attorney before you speak with the authorities. An attorney will help you protect your rights and look for ways to get the charges reduced or, in some cases dropped entirely. It can be your best chance to mitigate the fallout from an arrest and help you get your life back on track.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Heroin use surges in suburban, affluent Placer County," Ed Fletcher, Mar. 28, 2012

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