Is Heroin The Next Drug Epidemic in Western Kentucky?

A forum scheduled for next Tuesday will take a closer look at the issue.
We know about the meth epidemic in the Tri-State. But some in western Kentucky are worried about another growing problem: heroin. The highly addictive drug is becoming the drug of choice for more and more people.

It's about 200 miles from Owensboro to Boone County, Kentucky.  200 miles from the life Corey Burris once lived.

"It really took over my whole life," he says.

Heroin was one of those drugs that took him down some wrong turns.

"Stealing from loved ones, family, friends, all kinds of stuff. Breaking the law."

"Most of my friends I grew up with, they all started using drugs. They would eventually went to heroin. It got to the point to where that's what everybody was doing."

It's an epidemic in northern Kentucky, and an epidemic western Kentucky doesn't want to see.  Statewide, more than 140 heroin overdose deaths were reported in Kentucky in 2012. Law enforcement officials say they're seeing more heroin related cases in recent years.

"As the suppliers start moving in, and make their connections, I anticipate it to continue to increase," says Daviess Co. Coroner Jeff Jones. He's a member of the state's Agency Of Substance Abuse Policy. He says one reason for the spike is cost.

"It's a cheaper drug, so therefore individuals can get more drug for their money," he says. "It produces the same type of effects they're looking for."

Corey's been clean for more than a year. He says tackling a potential heroin epidemic in the Tri-State will be hard, but not impossible.

"There's probably some preventive things that can come out," he adds.

A forum on heroin is scheduled for next Tuesday at 6:00 PM at Saint Joseph and Paul Parrish Hall in Owensboro. Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are also looking at tougher penalties for heroin dealers. State Senator Katie Stine says she'll propose a bill allowing prosecutors to charge heroin dealers with murder if their buyer dies of an overdose.

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