MT. LEBANON (KDKA) — Heroin is rearing its ugly head in urban, suburban and rural settings.
Say the word “heroin” and it conjures up junkies shooting up and nodding in dark alleys.
“It might not be evident to everyday citizens, but it’s here,” says Mt. Lebanon Police Lt. Aaron Lauth.
Behind the doors of lovely homes and on tree lined streets here in suburbs like Mt. Lebanon – addicts are dying.
“One of the big things with heroin – with a lot of drugs, is that they don’t have borders,” Lauth said.
There have been five overdose deaths in the municipality in the past year.
“All across the board as far as ages go,” Lauth said.
Five of the fatal overdoses were related to heroin, one to methadone.
The ages range from 24, 31, 44 to 53 years of age.
“Most recently, we had a 19-year-old overdose death,” Lauth said.
“And when that tragedy happened I said, ‘What am I waiting for? Let’s get something started.,” said Mt. Lebanon Commissioner Kelly Fraasch.
Fraasch, along with School Board Member Jo Posti, are launching an effort to overcome the stigma families face in dealing with drug problems.
“Overwhelmingly, people have been positive about this,” Fraasch said. “They have contacted me and shared their stories, their heartbreaks.”
“We’re seeing the worst case scenarios,” says Chief Todd Pritchard of Medical Rescue Team South.
Resuscitating overdose victims puts paramedics on the front line. They are looking forward to contributing to this latest effort.
“We’re going to make a concerted effort to generate more specific statistics targeting specific age groups – that sort of thing,” he said.
On March 20, they’ll hold their first meeting, hopefully forming a task force including community, and religious leaders, first responders and medical experts to look at what other communities wrestling with heroin problem are doing to see what might work in Mt. Lebanon.