From The Toronto Star:
The dire predictions have panned out: Heroin has filled the void.
Almost six months after OxyContin was replaced with a harder-to-abuse pill, police services and addiction counselors say heroin has made a dramatic appearance on community streets, fueling crime and causing a rise in overdoses.
In many Ontario towns and cities, the potent drug is now cheaper and easier to access than OxyContin. Heroin is also surfacing in communities that have rarely or never had to deal with the dangerous narcotic. And some of those turning to heroin — often to stave off the horrors of opioid withdrawal — appear to cross all age groups and social and economic backgrounds.
Frontline police officers and addictions staff say the sudden arrival of heroin coincides with shrinking street supplies of OxyContin — an unintended, though perhaps not unexpected, consequence of making it harder for people to get the prescription painkiller.
“We went from ‘hillbilly heroin,’ as oxys were referred to, to heroin proper,” said Murray Rodd, chief of the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service.
“It was a direct consequence of replacing the demand for OxyContin with actual heroin. And it happened in a very short period of time.”
On Wednesday, Peterborough police took part in a major drug raid across the GTA, during which investigators seized, among other things, large quantities of cocaine, marijuana and heroin with a combined street value of more than $430,000.
The seven-month investigation, called Project Kingfisher, was led by the Durham Region police guns and gangs enforcement unit. Of the 28 people arrested, 10 are Peterborough residents who together face a total of 60 charges.
Rodd said the number of charges and arrests linked to Peterborough residents “show the appetite and scope” of the heroin issue in the community.
Staff Sgt. Larry Charmley said Peterborough police — and those in the Durham force — were surprised by the amount of heroin coming into the Peterborough area.
“Until now, we never had a known heroin problem in Peterborough,” Charmley said.
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