Heroin, long thought to be a plague in poor inner cities, has infiltrated Oakland County, home to some of the metro Detroit area’s most affluent suburbs.
The problem is so pervasive and the numbers so staggering that Sheriff Michael Bouchard’s office will host a free town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 N. Telegraph in Pontiac.
Heroin use in Oakland County has increased 300 percent. and is “an equal opportunity killer,” Bouchard told the Detroit Free Press.
Speakers will include members of the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team, which is made up of detectives from police departments across the county, and Dr. Alan Janssen, an emergency room doctor.
They will address some of the factors driving increased use of heroin, including increased production in Afghanistan that has caused a corresponding drop in price, as well as an increase in teenagers’ use of the drug and its increased purity.
Heroin use in Oakland County and across the state has also been on the rise as addicts find it more difficult to ge more expensive prescription painkillers containing opiates, the Free Press said.
The Department of Community Health said the increased use of heroin not only caused heroin overdose deaths in the state to increase to 728 from 2010-2012, up from 271 during the four-year period of 1999-2002, but also cause related health problems.
Admissions to publicly funded treatment programs for heroin addicts increased to about 13,600 in 2013, more than double the 6,500 admissions in 2002.
In Oakland County, where some of the most affluent metro Detroit residents live, and Wayne County, where some of the poorest live, don’t come close to matching the problem in Macomb County.
Both Oakland and Wayne are more populous, but Macomb County still had more heroin deaths than any other county in Michigan from 2010-2012, the data show.