Heroin use on rise in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Heroin use on rise in Nevada County

While methamphetamine is still the drug of choice in Nevada County, two other narcotics are emerging on the scene – heroin and OxyContin – powerful and addictive substances, said Bob Gillaspie, drug and alcohol program manager with the Nevada County Behavioral Health Department.

“(Nevada County) is seeing an increase of heroin use, within just this last year,” Gillaspie said.

A 23-year-old Truckee man was treated for a heroin overdose last week. Truckee Fire Protection District treated him at the scene with Narcan, then transported him to Tahoe Forest Hospital, Truckee Police Detective Robert Womack said.

Narcan, a drug used to quickly reverse the effects of heroin, is built into the emergency medical response protocol because of its effectiveness, said Dr. Michael MacQuarrie, the hospital’s director of emergency services.

Even so, Tahoe Forest rarely treats drug overdose patients. Last week’s case was the “first we’ve seen in 10 years,” he said. Most often, emergency room staff deal with the medical effects related to drug use: Heart attacks, chest pains, seizures, or accidents connected to heavy alcohol consumption, MacQuarrie said.

Western Nevada County, however, is seeing an increase in the number patients admitted into the emergency room with drug overdoses, Gillaspie said.

The path of abuse

Gillaspie said there are many theories as to why heroin and OxyContin use is becoming more prevalent in Nevada County. Heroin and OxyContin are derived through the processing of opium, which comes from poppy flowers. An increase in the number of poppy fields in the Middle East, including war-torn Afghanistan, has led to more heroin being manufactured and shipped to the United States, he said.

The cost of heroin isn’t less expensive compared to other illegal street drugs. OxyContin, on the other hand, is a legal prescription painkiller some people misuse, Gillaspie said.

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