Local law enforcement officials say cases involving heroin have sharply increased. The question is, "Why?"
Law enforcement officials said there are many reasons why they are seeing an increase, partly because it's cheaper than other drugs in some cases.
"Over the past year we have been seeing a lot more heroin.," said Michele Kluk, chief prosecutor in Northampton County.
Kluk said her office has seen about a 50 percent increase in cases involving heroin.
The Lehigh County district attorney's office said it has seen a spike as well, so enforcement in both counties is increasing.
"Easton police have been doing numerous raids. I know Bethlehem has been working on a number of cases, more larger scale cases with the feds to cracking down on the heroin problem," said Kluk.
The people who use heroin range from those in their 20s to people with an addiction to prescription pain medications, Kluk said. The question is why are they seeing the spike now?
"The effect. It's that immediate gratification," said Mary Carr, administrator of Northamtpon County's drug and alcohol division. Carr said heroin is a close second to alcohol as the drug of choice.
The market for heroin, she said, has been flooded. So, in some cases, it's cheaper than other street drugs and easier to get.
"The drug trade is like any thing in the economy. It's supply and demand," said Carr. "If the heroin is more available and at a cheaper rate than other drugs, that is what they will be using."
Carr said requests for services involving heroin have been steadily climbing. In the last four months, her office has seen a 10 percent increase while funding to treat addiction has been cut by as much.
Northampton County has a program to help people with heroin addictions get treatment after they get out of jail, but Carr said there are plenty of options to help people before it goes that far.
Allentown, PA 18102