A triple tragedy brings the story of heroin’s suburban rampage home

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It may not be news that heroin abuse has crept into America’s suburbs. TV stations, newspapers and academics have reported the trend over the last few years in metro areas as far-flung Denver, Milwaukee and New York City.

But a story this weekend underscores with a dramatic twist how widespread the problem has become: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on three young men who attended the same affluent middle school — ages 20, 21 and 22 — each of whom died this winter within a month of each other from apparent heroin overdoses.

Heroin has long trailed marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine in popularity locally and nationally.

But a 2010 Atlanta drug market analysis published by the U.S. Department of Justice found the highly addictive opiate is becoming more prevalent in suburban areas where it used to be rare. Forty-six of 62 metro area law enforcement agencies reported heroin was available at moderate to low levels.

Police think part of the reason is economics. At about $15 a hit, heroin is a cheaper alternative to prescription painkillers that can cost $30 to $80 a pill. Both are opiates and have similar effects.

The tragic story is worth a full read — partly because the parents of each of the three victims were willing to share the heart-wrenching story of discovering that the drug had taken their child.


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