Heroin Use On the Rise with Orange County Youth

Black tar heroin is increasing its popularity among addicts as Oxycontin prices rise. People addicted to opiates are looking for a cheaper high, naming Oxycontin as a gateway drug.

“Lately, we’ve been seeing mostly kids getting into heroin,” said Newport Beach narcotics Det. Elijah Hayward. “We’re seeing it [used] across the spectrum.”  42 heroin arrests have been made by Newport Beach’s narcotics unit (mostly for sales) so far this year.  Also, 23 arrests have been made for the possession or selling of oxycontin.

“It is everywhere, but we’re seeing it where we never saw it in South Orange County,” said Lt. Adam Powell, commander of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Special Investigations Bureau. “Our investigative units have received calls. We have one in particular who received a call from the mother of an 18-year-old who had (overdosed). Two years ago we never heard of things like that.”  It is scary to think about, but it’s a trend that’s on the rise throughout Orange County, and police want people to be aware.

Although the new wave of users are usually in the late teens and early twenties, some have started using as young as the age of thirteen.  The easy access to medicine cabinets starts children early which can lead them to other drugs.  People will either steal the meds from their parent’s medicine cabinet, from friends, or lie to their doctor about “pain” that does not really exist.

Addicts will crack open the pills and either smoke or inject the substance to get high.  This process bypasses the general effects of taking the medication normally, and gives off a feeling of euphoria.  As the awareness of substance abuse came about, drug makers began to create a different formula for the prescription so kids would not be able to smoke it and get that instant high.  Now, the pills of OxyContin that can be smoked go for around $120 instead of the $30 they used to.  This results to opiate addicts looking for a cheaper, more available high.

Mexican black tar heroin is sold in what’s called a balloon, a single dose of heroin, which can be purchased for as little as ten dollars.  Heroin wasn’t too popular in Orange County and was usually found only in pocketed areas.  But as the drug is becoming more prevalent, police want parents to be on the look out.

Some symptoms parents can look for:
•    Burned spoons or foil
•    Syringes and balloons
•    Droopy eyelids, constricted pupils, inability to stay awake
•    Pale skin and sunken eyes
•    Loose/limp arms and legs

“Once you start, it’s not really a drug you can do occasionally…it comes with withdrawals.”

Click here to read more about heroin abuse.