FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Mary H. knows firsthand the pains heroin use can bring into a family.
Her son has struggled with addiction since his high school days.
“His senior year, I noticed a real change in him,” Mary said. “When I took him to the doctor, he had told me he experimented with Oxycodone.”
Mary, who did not want her full name used in this article, had no idea what this meant. But as the year went on, she started to notice her money missing.
“I then realized he was really bad into Oxycodone,” she said.
After treatment and addiction counseling, her son was still not right, and the family held a drug intervention — her son had been using heroin.
“Even when we did the intervention, I didn’t know. Not until the intervention was over, did I learn he was on heroin,” she recalled.
Mary has been warning parents that heroin has arrived in the county. The drug has stronger strength that is killing people.
Because Oxycodone pills are becoming pricier and harder to find, the use of heroin, a cheaper street drug to buy and get, has skyrocketed once again.
At least three recent overdose deaths are linked to heroin. According to sheriff’s office incident reports, on Aug. 15, an affluent 16-year-old high school student was found dead at his home. Two other adult males – 22 and 27 years old – have also died because of heroin overdose in the last year.
“Anytime there’s a death, it becomes a problem, even before the three deaths,” said Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
From Jan. 2008 to Dec. 2012, there have been 21 incidents related to heroin use and possession in the county.
Rainwater said because of people overdosing, the sheriff’s office started to come up with information on drug dealers.
On Aug. 27, sheriff’s deputies dismantled an Atlanta-based drug dealing operation out of a hotel in Cumming. In addition to two dealers arrested on Aug. 27, a young man buying the drug was also taken to jail. The narcotics unit in the county is working to stay ahead of the dealers.
“We started working the informants and working this very hard to try to locate the dealers,” Rainwater said. “They moved their operations for at least a week to Forsyth County.
“The old way they would do business, is you would go to a heroin dealer,” Rainwater said. “Now, the heroin dealers will come to you.”
Sheriff Duane Piper, in an interview with Channel 2 News, said parents are caught off guard when they find out their child is shooting heroin.
“We’re going to make Forsyth County very uncomfortable for anybody who wants to sell narcotics in our county, especially our children,” Piper said.
The “black tar” heroin making its way to Forsyth County is also stronger and less diluted, or cut with fillers such as sugar, starch and powdered milk.
“They took a purer form of heroin and that pretty much shut down their bodies,” Rainwater said.
For Mary, the use of heroin in the county was an eye opener. When her son went to a drug treatment and rehab facility in Atlanta, out of 12 young adults, three were from Forsyth County.
“We lost a lot of kids in this county and you never hear about it,” she said.
Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said parents need to be educated.
Mills wants to put together a drug summit and bring educators, law enforcement and county judicial leaders together to raise awareness.
“If we can get it all together, it will be during Red Ribbon Week at the end of October,” Mills said. “The main thing is we want the parents there. I see it as an educational vehicle for the parents. Kids are taught about drugs at school, but parents don’t know. They are the ones that need to realize. We want to let the community know what is happening in their backyard.”