Heroin becoming an 'epidemic' in Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Heroin use has reached epidemic levels in South Florida, according to a newly released reported put out by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Deaths related to the drug have nearly doubled. In 2012, there were 117 deadly incidents involving heroin, up from 62 deadly cases in 2011.

Not only are investigators at the medical examiner's office discovering more and more heroin related cases, but a growing number of those samples contain an additive that makes the drug, in some cases, 100 times more addictive.

Mitchell Brown of Delray Beach is all too familiar with the addiction. "At 40-years-old, I am exceptionally lucky to be alive," said Brown.

A recovering heroin addict, Brown flushed years of sobriety down the drain last year when the urge once again took control. "It became a choice at that moment of literally the thought of suicide or getting high," said Brown.

He is now helping run a sober house in Delray Beach serving a growing number of South Floridians who are making the choice to turn to Heroin.

In Delray Beach alone, heroin overdoses shot up from three in 2012, to 27 in 2013 according to the local police. "It's one of those things that when you hear it, you're like, 'Something is wrong,'" Sgt. Nicole Guerriero with Delray Beach Police.

Sgt. Guerriero said what is even more alarming, officers are finding batches of heroin laced with "fentanyl". She said it makes the drug, in some cases, 100 times more addictive.

Jeff Kadel, at the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, said the rise in heroin use has a lot to do with the crackdown on pill mills. He also said heroin is a cheaper option. "You know you have an addiction. You need to feed it. If you can't get it from source A, you get it from source B," said Kadel.

The only ways Kadel sees anyone stopping the heroin epidemic is by educating the youth early and arresting the dealers who put it out on the street.

Brown suspects this is just the beginning of a rise in heroin use and said someone out there in the community is making a lot of money off of the deadly trend. "There are no rainbows in this at all. There are no rainbows; there isn't any pixie dust. There's none of that," said Brown. "It's a war."

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