Many people are fearful of a Zika virus epidemic because of the publicity the virus has received. But South Carolina law enforcement officers are fighting a much-less-publicized epidemic – the growth of heroin addiction. This problem, however, is largely rampant among middle class users, according to Frank Shaheen, director of the Recovering Professional Program.
Many people actually started on legal prescription pain medications, he says, and when that supply ran out, many who had become dependent on the painkillers found heroin in ready supply and cheaper than the prescription drugs. Richland County Sheriff’s Deputy Captain Brian Godfrey noted the dramatic rise in heroin cases handled by his office, but he says that while the sheriff’s office is going after the big narcotics dealers, it is not in the business of putting small users in jail. These people need help, he says, which is available at alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers in every county in the state.