SPECIAL REPORT: National heroin and opioid epidemic, a problem locally?

SPECIAL REPORT: National heroin and opioid epidemic, a problem locally?

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Videos and photos of overdoses gone viral in various cities across the country. The culprit, heroin and opioid abuse.

"Officers are constantly running into it on the streets. Pain killers are definitely an issue here. Methadone, Oxycontin. There's a lot that we are finding every day here," said Cpl. Steve LeSueur with the Odessa Police Department.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2014, opioid deaths totaled 14,000. Heroin death came out to more than 10,500. Overdoses on opioids have quadrupled since 2000.

"We are constantly responding to overdoses and it's ruining lives. They are highly addictive and they make people do crazy things," said LeSueur.

In 2014, Texas saw just over 2,600 drug overdose deaths, up 4.3 percent from the previous year.

Amber Chavez, a licensed social worker with Texas Tech Physicians in Midland, works closely with drug users to help with rehabilitation and integration into society. Chavez noticed a correlation in recent years with drug use and the current state of the economy.

"With the economy being down, a lot of people try to find ways to cope and make themselves feel better. So, turning to drugs helps that feeling goodness," said Chavez.

While the economy suffers and some turn to drugs, authorities have noticed drug user's connections to other crimes.
Police say burglary is a common crime among drug users along with identity theft.

"These criminals, who are basically feeding their drug habit. They need drug money. So we are seeing a correlation," said LeSueur.

"Human nature," said Chavez. "We kind of fall back on what we know and what we are familiar with and as a means to escape and cope is where you turn back to heroin, you turn back to the drugs, because it gives you that feeling good sensation."

Police say heroin isn't as common. It could be due to how expensive the drug is $20 a pop for one small dosage. This drug is typically found in isolated communities.
"It's really pretty much accessible to those who know where to get it and how to get it. We aren't experiencing the same type of plague that most big cities are," said LeSueur.
"You get in and start running with that crowd and it's easier to just to get," said Chavez.

Although opioids are easy to find, Odessa police said that drug is not the biggest problem right now.

"Seems like meth, cocaine, are the two biggest here," said LeSueur.
Drug arrests are made daily, sometimes by the hour. A lot come from traffic stops or tips from the public.

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