It is no secret to anyone that Baltimore, Maryland is one of the larger hot spots for buying and selling heroin. Last week, February 15th through the 19th, Washington D.C.’s ABC News 7 On Your Side aired a series called the “Heroin Highway.” The Heroin Highway stretch begins in Baltimore on Highway 70 towards Hagerstown to Interstate 81 into Martinsburg, West Virginia and then continues into Virginia towards Winchester.
Need for Treatment
Throughout this week long series, a number of points are hit multiple times. One of which being the lack of treatment options available for people. Kevin Simmers, a former Hagerstown police Sergeant who lost his daughter to a heroin addiction, stated that we need more money for treatment. The battle against supply and demand is another primary issue that society has been taking a harder look at. The demand for heroin has risen as a result of prescription painkillers. Heroin is the easier and better option as far as availability. It also works quicker and can be stronger than painkillers. The supply for heroin is heavily concentrated in Baltimore compared to anywhere else in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Baltimore has held this reputation since the 40’s. There really is no way to attack the supply of heroin any differently, because if the demand is there, people will find a way to supply it.
Efforts in Virginia
Part three of the series focused on Virginia’s fight against the heroin epidemic. They begin raising awareness with a documentary called “Heroin – The Hardest Hit.” It was made clear that within the documentary nothing was sugarcoated and focused on the nasty truth behind a heroin addiction. A big focus in Virginia recently has been the number of newborns being born to heroin addicted mothers.
Everyone is Affected
Part five, the final episode, brought forward a number of statistics, just to give the public an idea on how much this epidemic has risen just in the last couple years. According to the Hagerstown first responders there is a minimum of two overdoses every 24 hours. Narcan, a heroin overdose reversal drug, has been used 122 times in 2013, 172 times in 2014, and rose to a total of 234 times in 2015. At the end of the episode the reporter made note that every person on the street that she had stopped to talk to had some connection to heroin whether it be a loved one or someone they know.
The series ended with offering people the opportunity to call the Substance Abuse Phone bank where treatment professionals and DEA agents took calls to answer questions and to also take any tips on people who may be distributing heroin in their area. The call bank was open for two hours and all calls were private. Every episode is still available on the ABC 7 News website and will be listed at the bottom of the page.