Experts: Heroin takes lives across Indianapolis at alarming rate

Overdose deaths will double over 2011 levels

INDIANAPOLIS - Heroin has made a big comeback in Indianapolis and officials fear the drug is taking lives across the city at an alarming rate.

Because of the city’s intersecting network of interstates, officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said that Indianapolis has become the heroin hub for the Mexican drug cartels.

Indiana State Police said heroin was the second most widely purchased drug by undercover officers, second only to marijuana.

The surge in heroin use has been fueled by the increase in cost of prescription drugs. The price of heroin has not only declined, but the purity has increased to dangerous levels.

A survey by IMPD revealed eight heroin-related deaths in 2009. Two years later, deaths increased by 600 percent. By the end of 2013, deaths will have doubled over the 2011 levels.

Officers with IMPD have traced a strong link between heroin use and the city's crime rate.

"Someone addicted to heroin could easily account in a short time frame, 15 to 20 burglaries," IMPD Cmdr. Bryan Roach said.

In addition to crime, heroin use also accounts for high levels of unemployment and disease.

Nate Rush, a former user who now runs an addiction treatment center, said Indianapolis cannot arrest its way out of the heroin epidemic.

"We have to build the resources. It’s better to build adequate treatment versus more jails. Because that's not going to solve the problem, treatment does work," Rush said. "If we don't start to see something happening soon, there's going to be a lot more folks in our community that will die unnecessarily from this terrible drug."

Officials said the city doesn't have nearly enough beds to treat the people who need the help.

State police said the amount of heroin seized across the state has increased by 300 percent.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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