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Uptick in heroin use in Michigan leads to more police action

Police and other authorities say that heroin use has become quite common in Michigan, particularly in the western part of the state. Besides an increase in police activity related to suspected heroin use, the number of people dying due to a heroin overdose has shot up in the Grand Rapids area. This could mean more even more aggressive prosecution for those arrested and accused of drug possession or distribution.

Of all the deaths due to drug overdose in Kent County in 2013, nearly 20 percent were caused by heroin. That is almost double the percentage compared with 2003, authorities there say.

Grand Rapids police have responded with a huge upswing in home raids. They have conducted more than 20 raids over the past year.

A great deal of this apparent increase in heroin is driven by the nationwide response to prescription painkiller addiction. People addicted to painkillers often turn to “doctor shopping” to get new prescriptions. But as law enforcement has cracked down on this practice, addicts often turn to heroin.

Today’s heroin is much more potent than in decades past. This, too, is largely responsible for the epidemic of overdose deaths.

Many people in Michigan with a heroin addiction are trying to get better. The number of addicts checking into rehab in the state has tripled over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, it is an addiction that can be difficult to kick.

Someone who is arrested on suspicion of heroin possession may benefit more from rehab or a similar program than from going to jail. Working with a defense attorney, a person in that position may be able to avoid incarceration or other such penalties.

Source: WZZM-TV, “Watchdog report: Heroin abuse soars in West Michigan,” John Hogan, Feb. 24, 2014

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