Heroin use is up in the Valley, police say
December 26, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Heroin use has been picking up in the Snoqualmie Valley, but a recent overdose death, and three near fatal overdoses, all possibly from heroin, has law enforcement officers concerned.
North Bend Police Chief Mark Toner said he’s been seeing an increase in heroin in the past couple years, but “three overdoses in a one-month period? I don’t think that’s just a coincidence.”
The other near fatal overdose happened in Snoqualmie a couple of weeks ago, Snoqualmie Police Chief Steve McCulley said.
He said the incident involved an adult and the person has recovered fine.
Toner said toxicology reports haven’t come back on the Preston man who died of an overdose at his home, but Toner does suspect it was heroin.
Toner said he doesn’t know if the overdoses are a result of bad dope, extra-strong heroin or if heroin is so readily available in the Valley that there is more abuse.
He said his deputies are receiving a lot of calls from businesses regarding needles being found in bathrooms.
Five people were recently banned from the North Bend Library because of suspected narcotics activity, according to a recent police report.
Toner said a restaurant called him when two people refused to get out of the bathroom.
He said deputies knocked on the bathroom door and found a man and a woman inside.
“They had just flushed the toilet, and so we don’t know what was flushed, but we did find a foil with traces of possible heroin on it,” Toner said.
Deputies were also called to a Torguson Park bathroom recently where three men were found in one stall, he said.
“One had dope on him, so he was arrested for felony possession of narcotics,” Toner said.
Toner and McCulley have seen an increase in heroin, but McCulley said Snoqualmie is only seeing a slight increase.
Neither has gotten calls from Mount Si High School or Two Rivers School, the two local high schools in the area, to investigate heroin possession. The chiefs have different theories on why use of the opiate is picking up in the area.
McCulley thinks it’s because meth, which used to be the drug of choice, has become increasingly hard to manufacture and expensive to buy due to tight government controls on ingredients needed to make meth.
Toner thinks the changed formula of OxyContin is causing an increase in heroin use.
OxyContin used to be easy to get, he said.
“People just opened their grandma’s medicine cabinets and there it was,” he added.
Toner said he’s heard pharmaceutical companies have reformulated pills so they are harder to crush, turning instead into a gummy substance that cannot be easily snorted, injected or chewed.
For whatever reason, heroin is on the increase in the Valley, Toner said. One thing businesses can do to deter users from frequenting their bathrooms is to lock the bathrooms.
“Make it so people have to come up to you and ask for a key,” he said. “They are just looking for a quiet, private place to shoot up. So, don’t make it convenient for them.”