Experts Weigh in on Heroin Addiction on South Plains

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Medical and health professional agreed drug use is nothing new to the South Plains.

Despite the difficulty that has sometimes come along with discussing drug use, and abuse, experts emphasized the importance of addressing the sensitive subject.

“Once somebody puts a chemical in their body like methamphetamines, like heroin like even prescription drugs, the impact that it has on the body and the brain and that’s what our research has shown his brain is so huge that that that person is off to the races,” said Dr. George Comiskey, Associate Director of Texas Tech’s Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery.

“Anytime someone put something in your system, heading into the point where they become addicted to it and can’t quit and it ruins your family life and work life all areas of their life that’s a problem,” he said. Comiskey said most of the drugs that reach the Lubbock area come from Mexico and Southern California.

“Sometimes what we see, is it comes up from the border, or it comes from the West Coast from San Diego and across. When it gets to Lubbock, who has their hands on it? What are they doing to adulterate it before it gets to the end user? A lot of people who get it on the streets are getting some pretty adulterated substances that are doing huge damage to their body,” he said. “Coming across from Mexico, coming from China, coming from around the world, we are the biggest market for chemicals. Whether it be something that’s street drug or with knock off for pharmaceuticals, they’re out there.”

Comiskey said heroin has become an increasing problem in Texas, though it has not proven to be the top drug of choice for West Texas users.

“Heroin is increasing, methamphetamines have always been big, it dropped down in 2006, when we changed the accessibility to pseudo ephedrine. Now other forms of it are coming across, mostly from Mexico, because they changed the manufacturing of it,” he said.

Chad Curry, Chief of University Medical Center’s EMS Training Division, said heroin overdoses are not specifically tracked, but indicated synthetic drugs are to blame for more overdose calls.

“Synthetics are more prominent,” Curry said. “We do see [heroin] here (in Lubbock.)”

“Substance use and abuse is such a tricky thing,” Comiskey said. “We’ve got to take care of people from the inside out, rather than trying to say we’ve got to keep this off the streets. I don’t know that there’s a way to control the availability of the substance but we do have control over, or we can someone is where people are in their want to take it.”

“We can do everything we can to help somebody before they put the first chemical in their body, but once they do then we just have to be around to love and support them, until they get to the point where they’re willing to do something different,” said Comiskey. “Until they run the gamut of what that experience is, and come to a place where they say for themselves ‘I don’t want to go down this road anymore. I want to change,’ it’s theirs to take that route fully.”

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