WASHINGTON - As many people have died from overdosing on heroin in Montgomery County in the last five months as in all of 2010, 2011 and 2012 combined.
Montgomery County police say at least seven people have died from overdoses of the drug since March, and six of those deaths have taken place since the start of June.
The deaths are not confined to a particular part of the county, and the victims range in age from 19 to 45 years old.
"The dangers of using illegal drugs are always present but this recent spike in deaths attributed to heroin is particularly alarming," says Capt. Marcus Jones, director of the department's Major Crimes Division.
Capt. Nancy Demme, director of the department's Special Investigations Division, says officers are pulling more of the drug off the streets.
"Patrol officers who are making traffic stops and coming up with heroin, or arresting subjects and searching them and finding heroin -- that number has increased also, dramatically," Demme says.
Demme says nationwide efforts to crack down on the illegal use of expensive prescription drugs appear to have many people turning to heroin as an alternative.
"It is cheaper, it's readily available on the street, and obviously it's not regulated like prescription meds. You have no idea what you're buying or what's in it," Demme says.
Demme says what's happening with heroin in the county mirrors what's happening in other local cities and counties, as well as the country as a whole.
"This is not an isolated problem," she says. "It is exactly what we're seeing across the nation."
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