BY ANIA ALBERSKI
“Heroin is cheap, deadly — and surging in popularity,” says Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider.
This addictive narcotic has been causing harm with it’s recent comeback from the 70s and 80s. However, this time it’s different. Those kinds of terms don’t tend to intimidate people as much as they should, but now things are happening locally. Heroin is causing a rise in arrests, hospital entrees, and even some deaths right here in the capital region.
Heroin, also known as diamorphine, was originally synthesized by adding two acetyl groups to morphine, which can be found in the opium poppy plant. Heroin itself is inactive, but turns into morphine when injected into the body. It is primariy known to be injected using a syringe, but minding common misconceptions, it can also be smoked.
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that thoroughly alters one’s brain. This drug can bind to receptor cells in the brain that control blood pressure, perception of pain, reward, arousal, and respiration. An overdose usually results in a suppression of breathing, which can be fatal.
Attention has been brought to the drug through many incidents in school districts not too far from our very own Guilderland High School. According to the Times Union, many high school kids from Shaker, Shenendehowa, and Colonie, are enticed to buy small amounts of the drug because of the packaging.
Drug dealers purposely advertise popular shows and music on their bags to attract teenagers and even adults. Manipulation of this sort has increased the demand for heroin, thus dropping the price for one-tenth of a gram to nearly ten dollars. Ten years ago, you could only buy one-fifth of a gram for that price.
“That’s why you’re seeing a lot of kids overdosing on this stuff,” Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said.
Cheaper prices, local suburban drug dealers, manipulation, and plain addiction are the leading causes of heroin becoming a major issue in the Albany area. Last year in Colonie, there were 38 cases of heroin overdose. Two of these resulted in death, and it seems that mortality rates are only going to continue rising.
Officials in New York State have been taking action ever since the problem began to rise. The first step was to attempt to prevent addicts from shopping for heroin through online prescription sites with the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (I-STOP). The next step was to arm local police officers and sheriffs with naloxone, an antidote that automatically reverses the deadly effects of heroin on an abuser.
Though action is being taken, more awareness and education is still needed. Health teachers and other educators, especially those in Colonie districts where students have been greatly affected by heroin abuse, are encouraged to educate teenagers on the dangers of narcotic use. It is difficult to tell how this problem will develop (or fade) as time goes on.
“It’s hard to watch your own friend suffer,” said a source who wished to remain anonymous. “Heroin is the reason he gave up and it’s the reason I can’t see him anymore. I just wish I could press rewind or something so that I could’ve stopped him. ”