Heroin use widespread in southern Colorado
Heroin use is widespread in southern Colorado, and its users are mostly teens and young adults, according to experts.
"This is an epidemic. It isn't something that's happening on the East coast, it's happening in Colorado Springs," said Jason Friesema, treatment manager at Shadow Mountain Recovery. "It is happening right now."
Working with people addicted or formerly addicted to heroin, Friesema has seen the effects of the drug. He knows how physically addictive and deadly it is.
"There are a fair amount of young people that I know that have sat on my counseling couch that are now dead," he said.
Heroin use has been on the rise in southern Colorado over the last few years. Experts say well-organized drug cartels and dealers - mostly from Mexico and South America - target teens and young adults. The Colorado Springs Police Department said heroin is now one of the most popular drugs, and it's prevalent in high schools.
"Heroin has really exploded on the scene here," Colorado Springs Police Department Lt. Mark Comte said. "It's cheap, it's available, it's accessible, and it's affordable, and whenever you have those combinations in any drug, it's going to become popular."
CSPD isn't the only organization seizing heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration said it's seen its ups and downs in recent years. And whereas they used to collect ounces, now they're collecting pounds of the drug. Just last month, agents seized almost five pounds of heroin in Otero County.
"We are targeting those individuals, those organizations, whether it'd be methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana or heroin," said Matthew Barden, resident agent in charge with the Drug Enforcement Administration in Colorado Springs. "We're targeting those organizations that are bringing and smuggling in large quantities of drugs into colorado."
Experts said many times heroin use starts with addiction to prescription drugs. When that's no longer available or too expensive, users often move on to heroin. They encourage parents to keep an eye on their teens. Drastically changing mood swings a change in behavior and the friends they typically associate with could be signs of drug use.
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