The opioid epidemic was a widespread problem in northwest Missouri, but local law enforcement agencies are now noticing that these addicts are switching to heroin use.
Capt. Shawn Collie of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force said last year that his agency had skyrocketed opioid prices and forced people to switch to something else.
"The people who buy them from the street can't afford the pills, so switch to heroin because it's cheaper," said Collie.
Collie also said a large number of people are going to Kansas City and Omaha and returning heroin at a cheaper price.
Both opioid and heroin use remain a problem of law enforcement, but according to Collie, heroin has changed most dramatically.
"It comes to the point where we see needles on the streets and playground where people use them," said Collie.
Dr. Robert Corder, a volunteer doctor at the St. Kolbe Puckett Center for Healing, said his facility has a large number of addicts living in the clinic, but most are related to heroin.
then you can't get pills and you get withdrawals. And it's either that you have a hard time, or you get something to help you withdraw, and some go to heroin. “
Corder said the clinic primarily uses Suboxone to treat heroin patients, but it is an extremely difficult process.
"When people are clean, their bodies still have this memory and it's just something about heroin that makes it difficult to treat," said Corder. "We have a lot of heroin-free patients, but it just keeps them a lot firmer."
Another problem associated with the increase in heroin use is the possibility of overdose deaths, Collie said.
“It's a substance you don't know who made it or what was put into it. And we see fentanyl and other types of narcotics added to the heroin, and here we see the overdoses. “
Corder said that fentanyl is not a good thing to mix with narcotics and will typically have a negative result.
"Only the tiny piece of fentanyl will kill you if you get too much," said Corder.
To help everyone with the problem and drug addicts According to Collie and Corder, it is important that family and friends pay close attention to changes in the mood or appearance of people who may be drug users.
"You see someone wearing long sleeve 100 degree weather all year round and you should communicate with that person to help," said Collie.
Collie said St. Kolbe-Puckett, the Family Guidance Center and the St. Joseph City Health Department are just a few of the places where people with drug addiction can seek help y need.