Homepage > Local News

Low Price, High Potency Spike Heroin Deaths

Heroin: �It�s Our No. 1 Priority,' Says DEA

POSTED: 5:36 pm EDT September 22, 2009
UPDATED: 6:18 am EDT September 23, 2009

A lethal combination of rock bottom prices combined with a spike in the potency and availability of heroin on Massachusetts streets has led to a startling increase in the number of heroin-related deaths in recent years.

NewsCenter 5�s Bianca de la Garza reported Tuesday that the state�s heroin crisis has spread from inner cities to tranquil suburbs.

�It just makes you think you�re nothing,� said Maureen Coppinger, a recovering heroin addict. �It took everything from me."

"It�s ruined everything," said Sarrie Meggison, another addict now seeking treatment along with Coppinger at Project Cope in Lynn.

Addicts and drug enforcement officials share the same enemy � a surge in the strength and accessibility of heroin.

�It's actually our No. 1 priority,� said Special Agent Steven Derr of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. �You can go out for $10 and get a bag of heroin. I don't think the future is particular bright."

The new mission, according to Derr, is to stop the flow of heroin from Colombia to New England streets. That�s where Coppinger and Meggison found heroin, and soon got hooked.

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
"I've gone to over 30-something detoxes," said Meggison.

Coppinger added, �The drug makes you think you�re worthless, you're better off dead, you�re better off without your family."

�The heroin we saw today is not the heroin we saw 20-25 years ago,� said Derr. �It�s much, much, much stronger. Even the first time they are using it, it�s too strong for them."

And that may explain, in part, the state�s recent sharp rise in opoid-related overdose deaths. In 1996, there were 178. A decade later, the number of fatal overdoses had more than tripled to 637 � killing more people than motor vehicle accidents.

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
"Don't assume it�s just the cities, don't blame the cities. It�s everywhere," said Salisbury Police Chief David L'Esperance.

For L'Esperance, who became chief three years ago, the fight against heroin is personal. His 20-year-old son, Christopher, died of an opoid overdose two years ago.

�He was a great kid until he got into that. Then it all changed,� he said. �There is no stereotype for this, that is what people have to understand."

It�s something recovering addicts know firsthand. Both said they are thankful to be alive, but heroin has left a permanent mark on them.

"It got to the point last year where I wanted to die,� said Coppinger. �You don't care if you live or die, it�s that bad I really truly want to die."

�I had the house, the family, a job," said Meggison. �This isn�t a joke,� said Coppinger. �For young kids going out and experimenting, really think before you do things."

Local and federal law enforcement told NewsCenter 5 they agree that rehab is critical for people battling heroin.

Health Topics & Information

Many seemingly healthy foods are actually bad for your heart. Learn how to replace the imposters with nutritionally rich foods. More

Sponsored Links