Addiction Expert Applauds Utah's Biggest Heroin Bust

(KUTV) Patrick Fleming, Director of Salt Lake County's Division of Behavioral Health Sciences applauded the work of Utah police officers who along with Arizona police, confiscated 90 pounds of heroin and half a million dollars in cash.

Seventeen people were arrested in the operation. "We need this stuff off the streets, "said Fleming who explained how too many people are dying from Heroin overdoses in Utah.

He said in the United States, 3,600 people overdose in heroine every year. Fleming said while the efforts of police are great, the same effort needs to be put into treating heroin addicts.

"We have over a one month waiting list in Salt Lake County to get people into a treatment program," he said pointing to the need for more treatment options.

He said may families can't afford treatment and take on second mortgages to pay for the treatment of a loved one.

Fleming said often parents call the county looking for help for their sons who somehow became injured, took prescription pills, and then became hooked.

From pills, they move to the hard stuff. "The next thing that happens, he's out on the street buying heroin. He starts snorting it and pretty soon he'll start injecting it," he said.

Fleming noted that opioids (pain pills like Oxycontin, Lortab) have the same effect on the brain as heroine.

He said heroin addiction must be seen as a public health issue, not just a crime problem. Most of the addicts he sees are young, white males.

Fleming said although treatment is limited; if you need help call Salt Lake County for help. They can refer you to various options.

If you know someone who has overdosed, don't leave them to die. The Utah Safe Harbor law allows people to take overdose victims to a hospital no questions asked. Doctors can often intervene and revive overdose victims.

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