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Heroin Use Hits Santa Cruz Hard

By Marissa Schwartz, Reporter, MarissaSchwartz@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Feb 04 2014 12:06:38 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 04 2014 10:55:30 AM CST

A string of deaths that are Heroin related.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

Dying to get high -- that's what some local drug counselors are seeing, as heroin use on the Central Coast becomes more popular among a younger crowd. 

It's a drug investigators said Actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman overdosed on over the weekend.  He was found dead in his New York apartment on Sunday, with a needle in his arm.  It’s an issue affecting our community as well.

It's cheap and easy to get.  Janus of Santa Cruz, a drug and alcohol counseling center, said the majority of it's clients suffer from heroin addiction.

"Many of them don’t start out with heroin, they may use something like oxycontin or fentanyl for pain," said program manager Les Washburn.

So basically some people get a prescription for something that's in the same family of drugs as heroin.  Everyone's reaction to the opiate is different.

"Some people could take oxycontin for their pain, drop it and no problem.  Some people because of their neurochemistry will have a different affect," Washburn said.

Some make the switch from prescription drugs to street drugs because of the price.  Counselors said nowadays all it takes is a quick trip to the ATM and $20 to get high.

"People spend anywhere from 20 bucks to 150 or more per day which gives them anywhere from one 1 to 2 what they call 'hits'," Washburn said.

Janus said it's seeing 18 and 19 year olds who've been using the drug for several years already.  What's lethal?  Not knowing what it’s mixed with.

"Unless you're buying a pharmaceutical, it's cut with chemicals and you never know what’s in it," Washburn said.