COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Deaths from Heroin use have increased dramatically in the last couple of years.
Some may think of Heroin as a big city drug commonly seen up north but state and local officials say the use of this dangerous and lethal drug is on the rise and taking lives in the deep south.
"There's a lot of Heroin in Georgia and it's cheap," Georgia Bureau of Investigations Chemistry Unit Assistant Manager Denneen Kilcrease said.
Killcrease claimed since 2011, Heroin deaths increased by 300 percent.
"Specifically in 2011, we saw 276 cases that were Heroin cases; In 2014, we are at 863," Killcrease said.
According to www.Justice.gov Columbus is one of four major cities in Georgia where heroin is readily available.
"At the same time this trend has happened, another trend has gone on. We've seen a 20 percent decrease of our prescription opiate cases, which means to us is we have an increase of one and a decrease of another of the same type of drug," Killcrease added.
Captain Gil Slouchick of the CPD Special Operations Unit said the increase in Heroin use is due to a nationwide crackdown on prescription pills.
"In my four years [on the special ops unit] I saw it one time until recently. Here recently, officers are finding it on traffic stops," Slouchick said.
Just like with any illicit drug, the risk of overdose increases because the ingredients aren't regulated.
"There's no quality control. You don't know how it's being mixed so you don't know if you're going to get a stronger mix than you got last time," Slouchick warned.
We spoke with Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan who said Columbus had several Heroin overdoses but no deaths. However, he added he did have a few cases pending toxicology reports from the GBI.