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Friday, October 31, 2014
Another heroin death
Experts voice concern as use increases in L.B.
JOSEPH KELLARD
Courtesy Long Beach Medical Center
Courtesy LBMC Supervisor Kristen Snipp with drawings created by clients in art therapy at the Chemical Dependence Unit at Long Beach Medical Center.

While no one may be dealing heroin in Long Beach, some local people are overdosing on the drug.

“Our intelligence tells us that to get heroin, you have to go outside Long Beach,” said Inspector Bruce Meyer, a Police Department spokesman. That conclusion is based in part on police interviews with the handful of people who were arrested last year for heroin possession, and said they scored the drug elsewhere. That was also the LBPD’s finding when it investigated two recent heroin-related deaths in the city.

On Dec. 11, police found a 23-year-old woman dead in her home, and on Jan. 12, they found a 19-year-old woman in the same circumstances. Both appeared to have injected themselves, and investigators determined that they had purchased the heroin in either Queens or, more likely, Brooklyn, Meyer said.

The deaths are signs of an upswing in heroin use, not just in Long Beach but county- and nationwide, and local authorities are stepping up prevention efforts to try to quell the potential epidemic. In recent years, use of the drug, particularly among young people ages 16 to 19, has been on the rise.

With some 400 people arrested for possession or distribution around Nassau County in 2009, the theory that the drug is confined to urban areas and a narrow demographic has been discarded. Heroin was once sold openly on street corners in crime-ridden neighborhoods, but now it is crossing all ethnic, economic and racial lines, and is bought and sold in restrooms at fast-food restaurants, gas stations and schools.

“These were your average people who go and buy their drugs in New York City and then they come back and, in the privacy of their homes, they’re injecting themselves with heroin,” Meyer said of the two Long Beach victims.

People involved in treating heroin addicts say the gateway to the drug is right in their family bathroom. Patricia Hincken, director of alcohol and substance abuse at the Long Beach Medical Center, said that the volume of prescription painkillers being prescribed to people statewide has increased more than 150 percent over the past decade.

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