Latest cycle of heroin abuse hitting Lexingtonians of all demographics while officials try to track the drug's source

04/26/2013 12:06 PM

Kentucky has made progress in blunting the scourge of pill abuse and overdoses, but that, in part, has given rise to an equally dangerous drug, according to a public safety expert.

Lexington has seen a dozen citizens die from heroin overdoses so far in 2013 after only having one or two in previous years.

Clay Mason, who oversees police, fire and emergency management departments in Lexington as the city’s public safety commissioner, told Pure Politics that those who have overdosed cut across all demographics, ranging in their 20s to their 50s and coming from all income levels.

Mason said from talking to investigators, most people who are becoming addicted to heroin are individuals who have an existing addiction to opiate addiction.

“The problem with heroin is that no body that is taking it knows exactly what dose they are giving themselves. They don’t know if it has been cut once, twice or ten times, they don’t know the strength of it at all so that’s creating the circumstances of overdose,” Mason said (at 2:20).

Mason spent 25 years with FBI and most recently oversaw the Lexington FBI field office and the Lexington Joint Terrorism Task Force. And he also outlined how police have been able to track the sources of the heroin. Watch the interview:

But spikes in heroin overdoses are not a new phenomenon. As Mason points out, the first epidemic was in 1902 and the country has been through four other cycles of high heroin use, including the 1920s, 1950s, late 1960s to ’70s and now.

But Mason says there are issues in dealing with the addiction because of time and knowledge circumstances.

“There is a long enough gap between these instances that the treatment people and the law enforcement people, there’s not much institutional knowledge,” Mason says (at 5:00). “There is no body in the police department right now that remembers the last heroin epidemic in the United States and the last one really didn’t impact Lexington from what I understand.”


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