This week, WHCU takes a closer look at the growing problem of heroin in Ithaca and Tompkins County.
From local law enforcement, to area treatment agencies to anti-drug and alcohol advocates, everyone seems to agree that there is no shortage of heroin in the region.
Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson says the county has seen a significant increase in crimes that involve possession or sale of heroin.
“The people entering treatment court with heroin or opiate addiction as a primary reason for getting into treatment has gone way up,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson says part of the reason for the increase in usage is the fact that the drug is so abundant for users, and highly profitable for dealers.
“The profit margin on heroin is bigger than the profit margin on cocaine, and it is abundantly available,” she said.
According to data from Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services, one of Ithaca’s two primary treatment agencies, a little over 13 percent of the addicts entering treatment in the year 2007 were addicted to heroin, opiates or oxycontin. In 2012, that number was 48 percent, making it an increase of 35 percent over the last five years.
And those numbers just scratch the surface of how abundant and widespread the drug has become.
Listen to The Morning Newswatch Tuesday when we’ll hear from Rich Bennett, the treatment director at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services, who has seen firsthand the toll the drug has taken on thousands of local residents.