Officials: Heroin, Oxy use increasing in region | SierraSun.com
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Officials: Heroin, Oxy use increasing in region

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun

A 23-year-old Truckee man was treated for a heroin overdose last week at a time when heroin use in Nevada County is reportedly on the rise.

While methamphetamine is still the drug of choice in Nevada County, two other narcotics are emerging on the scene ” heroin and OxyContin ” powerful and addictive substances, said Bob Gillaspie, drug and alcohol program manager with the Nevada County Behavioral Health Department.

“[Nevada County] is seeing an increase of heroin use, within just this last year,” Gillaspie said.

Truckee Fire Protection District was the first to arrive March 7 at the Glenshire residence where a Truckee man overdosed on heroin, said Truckee Police Detective Robert Womack. The 23-year-old man, whose name was not released because he was not cited by police at the scene, had either taken too much heroin or had used more potent heroin than he was accustomed to, Womack said. Truckee fire emergency response personnel gave the man Narcan ” a drug that blocks the reaction of heroin in the body ” and transported him to Tahoe Forest Hospital, where he was treated by emergency room staff, Womack said.

“Narcan reverses the effects immediately,” said Dr. Michael MacQuarrie, the hospital’s director of emergency services. “You wake the person up and they get mad at you because you ruined their high.”

Narcan is built into the emergency medical response protocol because of its effectiveness, MacQuarrie said. But Tahoe Forest rarely treats drug overdose patients. Last week’s heroin overdose was the “first we’ve seen in 10 years,” he said. Most often, emergency room staff deal with the medical effects related to drug use: heart attacks, chest pains, seizures, or accidents connected to heavy alcohol consumption, MacQuarrie said.

Western Nevada County is seeing an increase in the number of reports of patients admitted into the emergency room related to drug overdoses, Gillaspie said.

The Truckee man, charged with possession of heroin and suspicion of being under the influence of heroin, was not cited at the scene because of his medical condition, Womack said. His case was referred to the district attorney.

Gillaspie said there are many theories as to why heroin and OxyContin use is becoming more prevalent in Nevada County. Heroin and OxyContin are derived through the processing of opium, which comes from poppy flowers. An increase in the number of poppy fields in the Middle East, including war-torn Afghanistan, has led to more heroin being manufactured and shipped to the United States, he said.

The cost of heroin isn’t less expensive compared to other illegal street drugs. OxyContin, on the other hand, is a legal prescription painkiller some people tend to misuse, Gillaspie said.


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