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Report says heroin use is at its highest since 2000

In California, the San Diego Association of Governments reported an all-time high in heroin use among detained individuals in San Diego County since it first started recording such instances in 2000. This reflects a significant rise in opiate abuse across the country that prompted President Obama to call for a stronger effort to prevent trafficking of heroin in the Northeast in August.

The data from SANDAG shows that 13 percent of detained men and 15 percent of detained women in 2014 tested positive for heroin or another form of opiate. By comparison, only 5 percent of all detainees tested positive for the drugs in 2002. At the time, that was much lower than the rate of drug use in other big cities. The 2014 rates make San Diego comparable to those metropolitan areas, reports the agency.

Also during its data review, SANDAG found that only 6 percent of African Americans and 9 percent of Hispanics detained tested positive for heroin and other opiates while 20 percent of whites were. Among those who used heroin, 63 percent injected it, and 43 percent of those shared needles.

Of the detainees who were positive for opiates, 46 percent also tested positive for marijuana, and 83 percent were positive for methamphetamine. Also, 72 percent reported previous prescription medication abuse, and 88 percent reported using heroin as an alternative to prescriptions. Furthermore, 51 percent reported overdosing in the past, and 73 percent said that they were homeless before.

Someone who is detained for possession of heroin or another drug offense might need help fighting drug addiction. A criminal defense attorney could use that addiction to negotiate lesser charges that the defendant pleads guilty to. In exchange, the sentence may be reduced and include a requirement to complete a drug rehab program.

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