Doctors say heroin use has reached 'epidemic' status - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Doctors say heroin use has reached 'epidemic' status

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Doctors called heroin use in Connecticut an 'epidemic.' (WFSB photo) Doctors called heroin use in Connecticut an 'epidemic.' (WFSB photo)

Heroin use has nearly doubled over the last decade and doctors are calling it an epidemic.

They said deaths in Connecticut spiked and that one person dies every day from an overdose.

Police said in early March, a potent type of heroin called "New World" hit the streets. They discovered it during a bust.

The drug is cheap and highly toxic, according to police.

Connecticut's two senators call the increase in use unlike anything they've ever seen.

"It's time the federal government recognize that the lack of funding for treatment and enforcement is a contributing factor," said Sen. Chris Murphy.

While much of the heroin was being sold in the inner cities, doctors said many buyers were in the suburbs.

"These are middle class people coming from families, two parents, a stable family, good school systems," said Dr. Anthony Roselli, a general practitioner who practices in Avon.

Roselli said heroin and opiate use has spiraled out of control. At his practice, he said he has seen as many as 100 patients per month.

That's where it can start.

"They become ill, back surgery, broken leg, they go to the doctor, get the surgery and they are prescribed pain pills," he said.

Doctors said they've prescribed oxycontin and oxycodone in record numbers.

"Opiates are given out like candy," Roselli said.

Roselli said some of his patients were teenagers, but many were middle-aged adults.

"These are normal everyday people out there working," he explained.

When doctors stop writing prescriptions, they said people become desperate. They start going through withdrawal. That's when they said the patients turn to heroin.

Doctors said it's a lot cheaper. A pill was about $20. A bag of heroin was $5.

"The average person does not know the risk," said Roselli. "You get these from your health professional and you assume all is going to be well. You don't realize the potential is there."

Many do try to quit, according to doctors. They said there are drugs available to help.

However, the relapse rate was very high. Roselli said well over half of his patients end up back on opiates.

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