WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 11, 2014, 08:16 PM

Heroin is moving back into the Valley

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - Heroin has returned to the headlines not only across the country but here at home.

By: Michael Yoshida, WDAY

Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - Heroin has returned to the headlines not only across the country but here at home.

Last week we told you about the concern from law enforcement of the rising use Methamphetamine in North Dakota.

Sunday we examine the comeback of heroin. Another drug which local authorities say is starting to move back into the Valley.

Lt. Rod Hajicek/ East Grand Forks Police Department: “Yeah it's on its way back. I'd put it that way.”

Heroin. A drug that is rarely thought of as a problem in our region, but it is...

Hajicek: “There is heroin in the area. It's not a huge problem such as meth and marijuana.”

Sgt. Travis Jacobson/ Grand Forks Police Department: “Meth is definitely out there in staggering numbers. The’s around.”

Around and growing. Major heroin busts recently occurring throughout Minnesota from Duluth to Minneapolis. And just last week, Moving up the I-94 corridor, Moorhead police finding heroin during a residential drug bust.

So why the return of this dangerous drug? Authorities say it all has to do with a rise in the abuse of prescription medications. In North Dakota, between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of people who reported such use in drug treatment services rising from 6% to 14%.

Hajicek: “Pills are definitely been an increase over the last four or five years. We're seeing many pill cases come through.”

Addiction to pills which can be a stepping block to heroin.

Hajicek: “Painkillers are opiates, and that's what heroin is. Heroin is an opiate. So that's what it is. Basically painkillers are legal heroin.”

It is this close relationship with painkillers that authorities say is leading to the rise in heroin.

Jacobson: “Someone who is addicted to oxycodone or pain pills, if they can't get their oxy then they may try and seek out heroin to use that instead cause the high is very similar.”

A similar high that also is coming at a cheaper price.

Hajicek: “Heroin is easier or cheaper than painkillers are now. Right now according to street value.”

Jacobson: “I would consider heroin a substitute for some of your pain pills or opiate based pain pills.”

Addiction that has made its presence felt in surrounding communities, keeping local agencies on alert

Jacobson: “We have networks. We talk with other law enforcement in the area, the state, even the tri-state area with what's going on in that area. So we try to keep on it. Kind of try and see what's maybe coming our way and prepare for it.”