ANDERSON — A national study indicates heroin use is on the rise in the U.S., and Madison County is no exception.
Local officials and drug officers have seen an uptick in heroin-related investigations, and a noticeable increase in deaths believed to be from heroin overdose in the past year and a half.
There are differing opinions about where the heroin is being imported from, but officials agree that it's here, and it's a growing problem. On Thursday, three people were arrested in an Anderson grocery store parking lot for a suspected drug deal involving heroin. Madison County Drug Task Force Captain Frank Sigler said there have been at least three heroin-overdose deaths in the county already in 2014. In a case earlier this year, three people from the same home overdosed on three consecutive days.
Sigler said he believes the supply is coming from Indianapolis. Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said he thinks it's coming from Detroit. But both agree they're seeing more and more of it in the county.
"It's hard to put a lot of numbers and data to it yet, because it's happened so recently, but you hear a lot of chatter about it. It's back," Cummings said. "It's scary because it's one of those drugs you tend to associate more with big cities. But if it's here, it puts the problem on another level because of the other things it leads to — robberies, assaults, murders."
Heroin use carries with it a strong physical addiction, generally believed to be strongest addiction among illicit drugs. Because users get hooked so easily, a steady supply is always needed, or the user will resort to dangerous means to obtain it.
Sigler said the Drug Task Force has seen the problem coming steadily. In 2012, the department had no heroin-related cases. In 2013, the number increased to about 10. Since the beginning of this year, Sigler said, they've already dealt with over 10 cases.