MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A deadly drug that makes the user feel numb to the world is on the rise in Milwaukee.
Heroin use is up across the entire country and Wisconsin is no exception.
Law enforcement officials are seeing heroin in Dane County, the Fox Valley and all over Southeast Wisconsin. In Milwaukee, police are seizing more of it, and more people are seeking treatment.
It was only Monday that deputies say a 27-year-old man lost control of his truck on I-43 and veered across three lanes of traffic. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says it appears the man had injected heroin while behind the wheel. He eventually crashed into an on-ramp wall.
The Meta House treatment facility in Milwaukee is seeing more heroin use among its clients.
Last year, 27 percent of new Meta House clients reported using heroin within the last 30 days. That is way up from 2004, when five percent of new clients reported using heroin within the last 30 days.
The CEO of Meta House says it’s a dangerous trend. She says heroin is easy to overdose on.
“It can be hard to know the purity of what you’re buying. So even if this isn’t your first use, you may be mistaken about your body’s tolerance,” said Amy Lindner.
Police confirm that more heroin from Mexico is making its way up to Milwaukee.
In 2011, Milwaukee Police seized 1.97 pounds of heroin. In 2012, that number skyrocketed to 41.2 pounds.
Police say one reason is economics; heroin is a cheaper option than cocaine.
Experts at the Meta House say there’s also another reason; a higher number of prescribed opiates like percocet, vicodin and oxycontin, that are common gateways to heroin.
“We see clients start with those prescription pills and when they run out of access to those pills or they run out of money to be able to afford those pills they turn to heroin,” said Lindner.
Heroin isn’t just a city of Milwaukee problem, it’s also on the rise in the suburbs. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office saw at least 38 heroin deaths in 2012, and is still waiting for more final toxicology results from their lab.