Pubdate: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
Source: Foster's Daily Democrat (NH)
Copyright: 2000 Geo. J. Foster Co.
Contact:  333 Central Ave., Dover, NH 03820
Author: Terry Date


EXETER — Today’s heroin is more potent than the heroin available on the
street decades ago, and it can be purchased for six or seven dollars a dose
in Massachusetts, police say.

It can be a highly addictive drug from which those who develop a serious
habit have very low recovery rates, say substance abuse counselors.

Alone, the factors merely contribute to a heroin problem. Combined, they
have provided fertile ground for a growing problem, one that some people
fear could continue to escalate.

Timothy Pifer, the laboratory director for the New Hampshire State Police
forensic laboratory, said the state has always had its fair share of heroin
users but between 1998 and 1999 it saw a spike in the number of heroin cases
submitted for analysis.

Pifer said the cases submitted increased by 450 percent in one year.

Out of 4,700 drug-related cases, approximately 670 were for heroin. And each
case could represent 100 to 200 packets of heroin, he said.

While the state primarily tests for the presence of drugs, it does some
quantitative analysis and also sends out drugs to the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency for analysis. Heroin is typically mixed or cut with things like
quinine, coffee, brown sugar or powdered chocolate milk, Pifer said.

Based on what he has witnessed, Pifer said today’s heroin in New Hampshire
can be as pure as 55 percent. The range of purity of heroin varies and that
also poses a danger to users because their bodies may not be accustomed to a
higher-grade product, Pifer said.

Today’s variety of heroin is very dangerous compared to the five percent
purity level of years past, said Sgt. Michael Hambrook of the state police
drug investigation unit.

The more potent heroin can be attractive to people who might not otherwise
try it because it can be snorted said Donald Hughes, director of the
intensive outpatient program Quitting Time, a Hampstead Hospital clinic for
substance abusers.

"Most people have an aversion to putting a needle in their arm," Hughes

However, the addiction can be so strong, Hughes said, that some people cast
away their aversion and begin using needles to intensify the high.

And kicking the habit is extremely difficult. "It has a recovery rate of 5
percent," Hughes said.

Wednesday’s heroin bust in the Seacoast may not ultimately affect users of
the substance.

When an area’s heroin supply dries up, addicts look elsewhere or begin
substituting other drugs until they can locate a new heroin source, Hughes

Hambrook says 10 doses of Heroin can be purchased in Lawrence, Mass., for
about $60 or $70.

It is not uncommon for an addict to spend $300 or more a day to feed his or
her habit.
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