Health Watch

Jan 28, 2013 11:26 AM

Heroin Use Up Across The State

Heroin use is growing exponentially across Kentucky including in Fayette County.

These days you'll find George Casovas working in the kitchen at Lexington's Hope Center. Two years ago, you'd likely find him on drugs or in jail. "Heroin was the drug that actually made me start breaking the law." he said. "Stealing, robbing, from my own family."

It wasn't until he missed a vein and nearly lost an arm that he turned his life around. "I never thought it could be this good for real," said Casovas.

Fayette County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Larson says not everyone is so lucky. In 2012, heroin use and related deaths skyrocketed. More than a third of Fayette County's 64 overdoses were from heroin. That's a more than 200% jump from years prior.

Larson credits the rise of heroin use to recent legislation that cracks down on prescription drugs. "Those laws have provided a little bit of success," he said. "And what's happened as a result, they're starting to look for something that does the same thing."

Where is the heroin coming from? Larson says mainly Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta and Mexico. It's cheap, and isn't hard to find. "Wherever," said Casovas. "You can get it anywhere."

When fighting the war on drugs, Larson says awareness is key. Casovas adds that places like the Hope Center also play a huge part. That's why he'll continue supporting the center in the kitchen and as a mentor on his path to sobriety.

The Lexington Hope Center reports a 60% increase in heroin patients in the past 8 months. Those found in possession of heroin face anywhere from one to five years in prison, while those trafficking the drug face 5 to 10.

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