Heroin usage, overdoses on the rise

Heroin usage, overdoses on the rise

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Heroin abuse is on the rise in Columbus. In fact, more people died from accidental heroin overdoses last year than in 2013, according to Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan.

Just eight months ago, we reported there had been no deaths related to heroin overdoses. Shortly after our May 2014 report, things changed drastically.

Nearly half a million Americans are thought to be addicted to heroin according to a report from the BBC, and Columbus is seeing a huge uptick in heroin overdose cases.

"They're using the same amount as they would have using when it was not as potent, therefore it's throwing them into cardiac arrest," Bryan said.

Two of the most recent heroin-related deaths in Columbus were in September when Taekaya Nickerson and Kieara Robinson were found dead inside an apartment on Cusseta Road.

"People can actually smoke it, through a pipe with marijuana as well," said Bryan.

They can also snort it or shoot it into their veins.

The numbers are alarming – in 2013 there were no reports of heroin overdoses in the Fountain City, but by the end of 2014 six people had overdosed on the illegal drug. Four of those died in just three months.

Heroin now crosses all boundaries. Just last year, actor Phillip Seymore Hoffman also died of an accidental overdose involving heroin.

Symptoms include:

Shortness of breath
Dry mouth
Constricted pupils
Sudden changes in behavior or actions
Cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off
Droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy

The state of Georgia is also seeing an increase in heroin abuse – 275 cases in 2011 to more than 860 cases last year.

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