As the cost of prescription drugs in Delaware rises, police say the state is facing an epidemic of heroin use because of its low cost and pure form.
“Heroin is very, very available,” Police Chief Elmer Setting said, adding that its price has returned to 1980s levels.
A baggie of heroin with 0.02 grams sells for about $5.
Adrian Rodriguez, a 10-year addict who started methadone treatments just one week ago, nearly gave his left arm for heroin and has already given up his home.
The homeless 35-year-old arrived at the emergency room when he feared the consequences of a widening, infected hole in his skin from shooting up.
If Rodriguez had waited one more day, doctors said, they would have had to amputate his arm.
Rodriguez said his addiction began when he had a taste of his brother’s heroin stash, and lost everything after that. He recalled begging a dealer to accept $3 and promising to pay the other two later.
Director of operations and communications for the Brandywine Counseling Center James Harrison, a former addict and dealer, said he could sometimes make $1,000 by 9 a.m. selling $5 baggies.
He recalled young kids who could make $30,000 by the end of the week.
While it may be easier and cheaper to obtain heroin than ever before, Harrison said successful intervention is on the rise, noting that 30 to 40 percent of addicts achieve long-term sobriety.
“We’re getting better at treating the whole person,” Harrison said. “Which results in better outcomes.”
The state’s drug prevention efforts include programs aimed at youth awareness, statewide campaigns to promote wellness and changes in state law.