Doctors: Heroin addiction surging in Johnson County suburbs - KCTV5

Doctors: Heroin addiction surging in Johnson County suburbs

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Doctors in the metro say heroin addiction is surging to dangerous levels in the suburbs.

Emergency rooms are seeing more overdoses and they say it's only getting worse. But the face of heroin is changing. Experts say the biggest spike in addicts is coming from teens and young adults living in Johnson County, KS.

Lena Price's daughter chased the high she got from heroin for a year, at 19 years old.

“It was very emotional. It was a very emotional time,” said Price, of Leawood, KS.

Price said her daughter is now in her second year of heroin recovery and, though she's now helping others, Price knows not everyone is so lucky.

“There is a stigma out there that it's a moral failing and it's not. This disease does not discriminate,” she said.

Addiction is spiking with young people in Olathe, Overland Park and in Lee's Summit on the Missouri side.

Those at First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention and Recovery say the number of people trying to help a loved one has tripled in the past year alone.

“Where people have more money is where they have more access to heroin. So we've definitely seen that spike in higher socioeconomic groups in the past few years,” said Dr. Irfan Handoo with Research Psychiatric Center.

Handoo is worried that the number of people shooting up could hit epidemic levels in the metro area. He notes that abuse typically starts with prescription drugs before it spirals out of control, but that opioid abuse can lead to heroin use and vice versa. He adds that users will "doctor shop" to get prescription drugs. 

“Patients can go to a dentist or primary physician's office and get prescription opioids for a toothache or a backache and many times that's when addiction starts,” Handoo said.

He said heroin is one of the toughest drugs to kick and, nationally, overdoses have doubled in the past year. 

Doctors say when a heroin user is high, they act hyper and unusually happy. When coming down, symptoms include restlessness, irritability and stomach cramps.

Currently Missouri does not have a prescription drug registry, but lawmakers are working to change that. 

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