AUGUSTA — The rate of heroin overdoses in the United States has tripled since the year 2000.
The CDC is calling the drug abuse an epidemic.
The CSRA is also seeing an increase in heroin addiction.
“The majority of the patients that we see who are addicted to heroin started on prescription opiates,” Dr. William Jacobs said.
Dr. Jacobs is the Medical Director of Bluff Plantation in south Augusta.
He has been studying drug addiction for more than 20 years.
“Probably 60% of the patients that I see are using opiates in some form. Most of them are using heroin,” Dr. Jacobs said.
It’s an addiction that no longer happens in just urban areas.
Suburban and rural areas are seeing a rise as well.
“Over the last decade, the number of males that have become addicted to heroin has increased by 50%, but the number of females has increased by 100%,” Dr. Jacobs said.
According to the CDC, Richmond County has seen a 74% increase in drug overdose deaths since 2004.
In Aiken County, South Carolina, there has been a 59% increase.
“We’re pretty much paralleling the national data. We’re not significantly under, we’re not significantly over, but it’s still rising. We have not stemmed the tide at all. We have not turned the corner,” Dr. Jacobs said.
He says the solution to the problem isn’t to lock addicts up.
He believes doctors and addiction experts need to do better by noticing the signs and by not overprescribing prescription pills.
“Because prevention is the real key here. We certainly have to treat the patients that become addicted, but if you can prevent someone from becoming addicted you don’t have to treat them,” Dr. Jacobs said.
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