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Muskego sees rise in heroin use, arrests

Sept. 19, 2011

Muskego - Heroin is on the march in Muskego and throughout Waukesha County, said Muskego Police Lieutenant David Constantineau.

When he was a drug investigator 16 years ago, Muskego did not have one heroin arrest, he said. Now police make several a week, he said, and the city has already recorded three deaths from heroin overdoses this year. Two were in their early 20s and one was a 52-year-old man, Constantineau said.

One of the reasons it's on the rise is it's in medicine cabinets all over the area right now, he said.

Oxycodone, also known by its brand name, OxyContin, has been introduced as a prescription opiate-based pain reliever that most people can handle without any problem, he said. Some people, however, are unable to break away from it, and become addicted, he said.

Eventually, they no longer can get it legally, and must buy it illegally. Heroin is also an opium-based drug and is much less expensive than oxycodone, and gives "a better high," Constantineau said.

Put simply, people take up heroin because it is cheaper, he said.

Young people sometimes are becoming addicted to oxycodone by filching a couple of pills now and then from their parents' prescription bottle, he said. If the prescription runs out or if they are caught, the only way to get that "high" is to turn to heroin, he said.

Constantineau urges parents to put oxycodone or any other prescription medicines under lock and key. They should also keep track of what and how much they have and dispose of all unused medicines instead of saving them "just in case." 

Studies have shown that the majority, although not all, people who start heroin began with prescription medicines, Constantineau said.

But all prescription medicines are a risk to young people because of the "pharming" parties kids hold where the cost of admission is prescription medicine. All the pills are put into a bowl and shared, he said.

- Jane Ford-Stewart

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