Watch: Heroin Epidemic Hits the Midlands

Columbia, S.C. (WOLO) — An epidemic authorities say is spreading like wildfire across the nation has made its way to the Midlands.

According to Agent Robert Murphy with the Drug Enforcement Agency, “It’s both physiologically and psychologically addictive that’s what makes it so powerful. Your body says it needs it and your mind is telling you you need it.”

Murphy says the recent spike in heroin use stems from the nations longstanding opioid addiction.

He tells ABC Columbia, “Started out with pills. Law enforcement has changed, everyone is starting to crack down on the availability of pills driven up the street value of those pills.”

The agent continues saying, it’s heroin’s low cost and availability that’s increased the drugs popularity across the country, across the state and across the Midlands.

He explains that the largest concentration of the drug’s use in the Midlands is in Richland County, “There’s really only one path when you use heroin, you’re either going to be addicted to a drug for the rest of your life or it leads to death.”

According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts the county saw a nearly 15% increase in heroin related deaths from 2014 to 2015 and he expects a similar climb in 2016.

Narcotics investigator Anthony Branham with the Columbia Police Department says, “I think they would be astonished not only at the numbers but at persons in their own families that may be addicted.”

Branham is one of the first with CPD to be trained in administering naloxone, which he explains, “Can reverse the effects of the heroin so the person can breath enough until the paramedics can arrive.”

A law passed in 2015 allows first responders to administer the drug without fear of prosecution. CPD hopes to have all of their officers trained and equipped with naloxone auto injectors in the coming months.

Categories: Local News, News