, Newburyport, MA


February 13, 2014

Editorial: Killer heroin crackdown could save lives


“We want them to see a heavy police presence. ... We want them to stop coming here to buy drugs,” Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon told reporter Jill Harmacinski.

Methuen has seen 33 heroin overdoses since November, Solomon said. In one case, a mother injected herself in a gas station bathroom and overdosed. Police found her children in her vehicle outside.

“The increase in heroin use is not staggering, but the increase in overdoses is,” Solomon said.

Acting Lawrence police Chief James Fitzpatrick is aware of the overdose problem, although it’s unclear how many overdoses occurred in that city recently. Fitzpatrick said there was one death in the city in 2013 as a result of the heroin overdose. He told Harmacinski that he has spoken with emergency staff at Lawrence General Hospital about it.

“They are definitely picking up,” said Fitzpatrick.

The problem with heroin is that it is relatively inexpensive with a gram of the drug — enough for a day for a moderate to heavy user — selling on the street for $40 to $50.

The fentanyl-heroin mix is deadly because the fentanyl itself is a powerful respiratory depressant. Heroin users preparing their usual dose will overdose on the same amount of a heroin-fentanyl mix.

It seems drug users are endlessly inventive in discovering new ways to destroy their lives. The police crackdown on this deadly scourge is welcome. It could save lives.

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