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Heroin epidemic reported in at least three metro Detroit counties
Kim Russell , Tara Edwards
7:00 AM, Jun 13, 2013
6:47 PM, Jun 13, 2013
(WXYZ) - A heroin epidemic is being reported in at least three metro Detroit counties.
In Washtenaw County, health officials say there were at least eight heroin overdoses including a death during a recent two-day span. EMS workers tried to save a 27-year-old saline man, but could not revive him.
Oakland County is also reporting an increase in overdoses.
Late last month emergency responders downriver reported an increase. Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital reported a 20-fold increase in overdoses.
Police say they are looking into whether someone is mixing the heroin being sold with other drugs.
It is believed a man who died last weekend, after being on life support, had overdosed on heroin as well, according to investigators.
Now police suspect he is one of the eight who could have consumed either a bad batch of the drug or doses laced with the pain killer Fentanyl.
Marci Scalara at the Washtenaw community Health Organization is doing a separate investigation.
She is trying to track down the names of all of the victims to see if they were clients in the past, perhaps clients trying to quit.
She said combining the drugs is a growing trend especially in teens. According to Scalara, many addicts start with expensive painkillers and end up switching to the much cheaper heroin.
New England Journal of Medicine charts suggest on the street, a person can buy oxycodone for $50 - $80 and can get heroin for merely $5.
What is just as disturbing, Scalara told 7 Action News there is a new, popular street drug in the form of a little pill.
It is fentanyl, but it's 40 times more powerful than heroin. The drugs are stamped with icons such as Facebook and Hello Kitty.
Investigators believe the pills are designed like candy to make users think they will have a good time while they are high.
Heroin, on the other hand, has also grown leaps and bounds even on a national level, according to Scalara.
She said if her team can link more cases together, they can lower the number of overdoses and addicts in Washtenaw County.