Story Summary

Heroin use on the rise

Recent reports show heroin use in the Puget Sound is on the rise, especially in young adults.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 5 updates

KITSAP COUNTY — The city of Poulsbo is working overtime in their battle against heroin after used needles were popping up everywhere.

poulsbopoliceNow the city’s mayor has a tactical plan that includes hiring a new police officer and a drug dog, and that’s just the beginning.

Mayor Becky Erickson hopes to hire that new officer at the beginning of 2014. She’s also shuffling more than $125,000 in the city’s general fund for the new cop and the drug dog.

“When a problem is facing your community, you don’t ignore it, you address it,” said Erickson. “That’s what we’re going to do.”

The plan comes after hundreds of hypodermic needles found in parks, garbage cans, and public bathrooms since January. Public works employees discovered most of those needles and drugs.

“We find pieces of folded up tin foil or wide open tin foil scraps with black lines on them,” said Kristian Watson, who is employed in the public works department.

Instead of workers like Watson collecting the needles, Erickson is urging everyone to call 911 to have a police officer collect them. It’s part of an aggressive plan to catalog exactly when and where the dirty needles are found.

“The more aggressive we are, the quicker we are going to solve the problem,” Erickson said. “We’re getting the word out to the people doing things they shouldn’t, that this will not be tolerated in Poulsbo. We are not tolerating this kind of behavior.”

That behavior is connected, in one way or another, to 80% of all other crime city-wide, according to police.

“It fuels property crime and that’s what you’re seeing,” said Deputy Police Chief Robert Wright. “It’s very prevalent and it’s very dangerous to just let it run its course.”

The needles aren’t just being found in public places. Joshua Ortiz found them at work a few weeks ago.

“We were closing the restaurant and I walked into the bathroom,” said Ortiz. “There was nothing there, I was there 10 minutes ago. When I go in there, and there’s two needles on the sink.”

Also part of the mayor’s plan is to install surveillance cameras in city parks to catch the drug users in the act. Plus she’s asking residents to snap photos of suspicious activity and email those to the city to this email address.

Eradicating heroin use in Poulsbo might be an uphill battle, but Erickson believes they’re already starting to see a difference.

“I think we’re already making a dent,” said Erickson. “I think the bad guys are already figuring out that Poulsbo means business and we’re not putting up with it.”

Erickson is also floating the idea of asking the voters to pass a tax increase to grow the police department even bigger.

SEATTLE — Jennifer Troyer says her daughter Sarah was a great kid with an outgoing personality.  Sarah had maintained a 4.0 GPA until she entered high school and started experimenting with drugs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“It started with pot. Then by ninth grade she was using cocaine every day. By 10th grade it was heroin and it’s been a downward spiral since then,” Troyer said Wednesday.

Sarah, who has been in and out of rehab, has been missing since Monday.

“Every time the phone rings, I used to worry it was the police and she had been arrested. Now it’s, did they find a body and need me to identify it?” said Troyer.

According to a new study by the University of Washington, heroin is now the most common drug used among 18- to 29-year-olds who seek help for rehab treatment in our state.

“This is middle class, soccer moms, high schoolers; athletes are falling into that trap.  I have kids in high school and it’s in the high schools,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Matthew Barnes said.

Barnes says the heroin comes straight up I-5 from Mexico and is one of the cheapest drugs out there.

Abby Atchison says she started doing heroin while a student at Stanwood High School and would pay for it with her babysitting money.

“Five dollars would get me high all day. All my friends did it, even good kids. Since Stanwood is a small town, when you’re friends with one person, everyone knows everyone. When one person starts doing it, everyone starts doing it,” said Atchison.

The UW study shows the number of people dying from overdoses has nearly doubled in the past three years. One of those was teenager Maceo Niehaus of Port Angeles. His dealer is now facing potential murder charges.

“If you’re a dealer out there and you sell to anyone and we can pin that on you that you sold to someone who OD’ed and died, federal and local partners are going to come after you,” said Barnes.

Troyer hopes it doesn’t come to that with her daughter. Right now, she just wants to know if she’s OK.

“I’m almost hopeless.  I still have some hope because she’s my daughter but I just want her back,” said Troyer.

Sarah Troyer was at an in-patient rehab facility near Rainier Avenue South and I-90.  On Monday, June 10, she was supposed to be transferred to another facility, but checked herself out.  She has no cell phone, wallet or belongings with her.

Sarah Troyer is 21, 5-foot-7, and 120 pounds.  She has long brown/auburn hair with several tattoos, including an octopus on her left forearm.  She has gauged ear piercings, and has piercings on her sternum.  If you have seen Sarah, you’re asked to call 911.


Sarah Troyer (Photo courtesy of family)

Local News

Heroin use spikes in Washington

HeroinSEATTLE — Heroin use in people under 30 has dramatically increased over the past ten years in Washington state, a recent University of Washington study shows.

The UW’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute released a study in June showing heroin use has more than doubled over the past ten years in people under 30. The study was compiled from information relating to criminal evidence — such has how often heroin is found at a crime scene — and admission to treatment programs.

Prescription drug abuse also increased, but seemed to peak in 2009. All other incidents of abuse, drug evidence and admission to treatment programs declined.

Heroin use is especially on the rise in people between the ages of 18 and 29, the report shows, with more young adults seeking treatment for heroin abuse than any other drug in 2012. The average number of heroin deaths in those under 30 in Washington state has tripled since 2000, with 607 people under the age of 30 suffering from overdose between 2009-2011.

Prescription drug abuse peaked in 2009, shortly before a strong uptick in heroin usage. According to the study, prescription drug abuse can often lead to heroin addiction because of the cheaper nature and addictive qualities of both drugs.

For more on the study, click here.


Local News

Drug overdoses on the rise on Eastside

ISSAQUAH — Emergency responders are seeing a spike in drug overdoses on the Eastside. In some areas, numbers are up sharply.

drugs“Depending on how you look at it, anywhere from 65 to 800 percent,” said Eastside Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Greg Tryon.

Eastside Fire & Rescue says residents from 18 to 50 years old share a dangerous habit that’s hurting families and taking lives. Substance abuse is way up among everyone from late teens to middle age.

“If this is, in fact, a trend that’s continuing, there’s definitely a problem,” said Tryon.

But the problem isn’t limited to Seattle suburbs. Port Angeles has seen seven heroin overdoses in just the last few weeks.  Seventeen-year-old Maceo Neihaus died last month. His family said it was the first time he’d ever touched the stuff.

“He was awesome, he was unconditionally loving,” said Neihaus’ grandmother, Rickie Neihaus. “Everyone loved him. This is hell.”

Investigators said 18-year-old David Zavodny sold Neihaus the heroin that killed him.  He could be facing murder charges.

“I have so much anger,” said Neihaus’ mother, Miranda Cedar. “So much fear for all these children out here.”

Law enforcement agencies across the region say, in general, use of methamphetamine and prescription painkillers is down – but users are turning to equally dangerous alternatives like cocaine and heroin.

And for too many, that high will be their last.

“These are friends, these are families, these are members of our community,” said Tryon. “These have real impacts and toll on our community.”

According to the latest figures, drug overdoses among kids younger than 18 on the Eastside have not gone up.

Local News

Heroin epidemic gripping Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — An epidemic of heroin overdoses has gripped one local town after the death of a 17-year-old this week, and the teenager who supplied him with the powerful drug is now facing serious charges.

Port Angeles Police say the resurgence of heroin might be happening because they’ve mostly squashed problems with other drugs like meth and prescription pain killers.

The latest overdose is one of at least five in Clallam County in just the past ten days.

Family and friends grieve the loss of 17-year-old Maceo’ Neihaus. They wear t-shirts showing his face hoping the community will stop the influx of heroin.

“He was awesome, he was unconditionally loving, he loved everybody,” said Rickie Neihaus, Maceo’s grandmother. “Everyone loved him. This is hell.”

Police say 18-year-old David Zavodny supplied Neihaus with the heroin that killed him. Prosecutors charged Zavodny with running a drug house and they’re considering charging him with homicide. But Neihaus’ family struggles to demonize the man who they believe killed Maceo’.

“Sadness for him as well because he’s just a young man,” said Rickie. “I know a lot of people don’t feel that way, they would like to see bad things happen to him but he’s just a young man as well with an addiction.”

Heroin use has gripped the small peninsula community of Port Angeles. Police say in the past ten days 5 people have overdosed on the powerful drug. Authorities say their success with stamping out rampant use of meth and prescription drugs now means a rise in heroin use.

Clallam County Superior Court placed Zavodny’s bail at a $250,000.

Maceo’s family says the boy always wanted to do something big, that he’d always be remembered. His mother hopes her son’s death will be a wake-up call for other kids to stay away from heroin.

“I have so much anger,” said Miranda Cedar, Maceo’s mother. “Just so much fear for all these children out here.”

Port Angeles Police hope stories like this will keep people from trying heroin.

A funeral for Maceo takes place at the Drennan-Ford Funeral Home Thursday, May 23rd in Port Angeles.