Heroin in our midst: Local arrests confirm findings of a national study

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

Heroin is a mainstream problem.

A Washington University School of Medicine researcher said it this week when a study of users was published in JAMA Psychiatry, and U.S. Attorney David Hickton confirmed it a day later when he announced that a prolific heroin ring had been thriving throughout Western Pennsylvania.

The caricature of an urban junkie is simply that. According to the JAMA study, which tracked data from 2,800 heroin users, three-quarters of them live in suburban and rural areas, 90 percent are white, and they are an increasingly older group. Locally, prosecutors say drug traffickers operated brazenly in the Monroeville business district and distributed their deadly product from Pittsburgh to as far east as Armstrong and Cambria counties.

The 44 individuals indicted as part of the gang came from all over the region — Pittsburgh, Duquesne, Export, Plum, Greensburg and more. They are accused of using teenagers to help deliver to their customers, who no doubt matched the dealers in their demographic mix.

The study and the arrests confirm the same key fact: The scourge of heroin addiction touches all parts of our community and likely counts friends, relatives and acquaintances among its victims.

The JAMA study’s author proposed better mental health care to help remedy the abuse. Enforcement of the sort that Mr. Hickton’s office undertook also is an important tool. So, too, is public awareness because a problem denied cannot be solved.

Heroin use is not some problem out on the periphery; it is in our midst and it cannot be ignored.

Meet the Editorial Board.


Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here