Heroin is highly abused in Jacksonville, Florida where it is said to be claiming more lives in Duval County than ever before. This involves cases of heroin for sale, heroin abuse and incarceration related to the drug which has been increasing dramatically. In fact, rehabilitation facilities in the city revealed that they are now tackling nearly 50% more of these cases than the previous years.
“You can easily, especially in Jacksonville they’re everywhere there’s a drug dealer on every corner,” said a patient and mother of two, named Kelsey McCoy. “All you have to do is go up and (ask) do you know where I can find this? And if they don’t know and if they don’t have it they know someone who does. It never fails. You can always find it.” McCoy stated that she went from abusing pain pills to using heroin, explaining that her ex-boyfriend introduced her to the drug. For her, access to it was literally very easy. “It was the cost,” she explained. “Pain pills were getting too expensive. It’s $30 a pill or you could spend $20 and get what would be the same effect of using two pills. It gives you a feeling of power almost.”
However, this powerful, but false, feeling of hope and courage nearly cost her everything. “I have a 4-month-old and a 9-year-old,” McCoy stated. “I’ve always had my children, I’ve always been a good mom. It came down to either I come here or I lose my kids and I’m not losing my kids.” She nearly lost her life, like others close to her home and across the country. According to statistics, deaths related to heroin in Duval County have increased from 17 in 2014 to 45 in 2015.
Commenting on this situation, physician assistant at Gateway Community Services, Danny Smith, said “I’m not surprised because heroin use is up. When people come in (I ask) what’s your drug choice? Heroin. It use to be this, but the heroin is less expensive so they’re using more and more heroin.”
For 5 years, Smith has worked with rehab patients, and seen a 43% spike in heroin use from July 2015 through February 2016, compared with the number in the same period last year. “Parents need to talk to their kids a lot more,” Smith added. “See what they’re doing and be involved with them. I think that will help more than anything else.”
McCoy, who is now just weeks away from completing a rehab program, has warned that while a high from heroin is just short lived, its effects could last a lifetime. “It’s so dangerous just stay away from it,” she said. “You literally could go get one thing from one person one day and be fine and get the exact same amount from the exact same person the very next day and fall out and overdose.”
Also, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office revealed that the incarceration rate for crimes related to the drug increased from 77 in 2014 to 117 in 2015. And so far this 2016, there have been already 19 arrests related to heroin, and Smith wants to spread awareness that drugs are far reaching and could be found in any neighborhood.