Watertown Forum Addresses Surge In Heroin Use

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Officials say there has been an alarming spike in heroin use across upstate New York.

Now, a task force is looking for answers.

A forum, hosted by state Senator Patty Ritchie (R. - 48th District) and held in Watertown Friday, is one of 13 being held across the state.

Several state lawmakers heard from former addicts, police, prosecutors and health officials.

All had warnings about heroin's dangerous and deadly consequences.

"We are clearly seeing increased Hepatitis C diagnosis, overdose and overdose deaths," said Steve Jennings of Jefferson County Public Health.

"They'll steal from their parents, their grandparents, their loved ones, their friends to get the money for that next high," said Cindy Intschert, Jefferson County District Attorney.

Some possible solutions mentioned at the forum were allocating more state money for treatment programs and issuing tougher sentences for dealers.

A 2012 federal survey on drug use and health reported that the number of people who said they used heroin in the past 12 months rose from 373,000 people in 2007 to 669,000 people in 2012.

The survey also reported that the number of people dependent on heroin rose from 179,000 people in 2007 to 369,000 people in 2011.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 23 percent of people who use heroin become dependent on this highly addictive drug.

Monday, December 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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