Officials work together to stem heroin's rise

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Associated Press

Posted on July 7, 2013 at 10:01 AM

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) — A group is forming in northern Kentucky to fight the increasing use of heroin in the region.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/1661xEK) reports Boone County leaders met recently to talk about how bad the problem is and begin developing a strategy to address it.

The newspaper reports that the variety of leaders who attended the meeting was indicative of how much heroin has affected the community. The meeting attracted law enforcement, city and county officials, health care professionals, school officials, the coroner and judicial representatives.

Recent statistics show that northern Kentucky is the epicenter of heroin abuse in the state. Data shows that in 2011 the counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell had 8.4 percent of the state's population but accounted for 60 percent of the state's heroin prosecutions.

Boone County Government and Community Relations Director Adam Howard said he wanted to clear up any misconceptions.

"A lot of people think of Boone County as the land of milk and honey, and we don't have these problems," Howard said. "We in this room know that is not the case."

Florence Police Department Capt. Linny Cloyd said the impact of the heroin problem goes beyond drug-related arrests. He said a majority of the thefts, robberies and burglaries are linked to drugs.

"If it can be sold for a dollar, it's fair game because (drug users) have to chase (their) high for today," Cloyd said. "You can't arrest yourself out of this."

Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force Director Bill Mark said heroin users might spend up to $150 per day on the drug after addiction takes hold.

He said a crackdown on prescription drugs has led to more people using heroin.

"There is a very clear trend over the last three to five years where we've seen simultaneously a decrease in the trafficking of prescription opiates and an increase in the trafficking of heroin," Mark said. "It's like it's created a void, and heroin is suspected to fill that void."

Boone Circuit Judge James R. Schrand, who brought community leaders together, said the group will work with Boone County Alliance for Healthy Youth to deliver its message. He said there would be a public awareness campaign that would culminate in more meetings in October, and then a search for funding to continue.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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