‘In the state of Washington, heroin is the number one drug threat’

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SEATTLE — Accidental drug overdoses have doubled in Washington state as heroin use has skyrocketed.

In 2010, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized 105 pounds in Washington. In 2013, that number nearly tripled to 271 pounds.

“In the state of Washington, heroin is the number one drug threat,” said DEA spokesperson Jodie Underwood.

Washington is in the top ten for domestic drug seizures by the DEA.

Underwood says one of the many reasons for the heroin epidemic is prescription drug medications and people you may not suspect.

"The people that were and are abusing  prescription  pain relievers are going to be soccer moms, professionals -- people who were prescribed these medications legitimately and were taking them under a doctor's supervision, but became addicted," Underwood said.

And when that prescription runs out, its chemical kin" is readily available and often cheaper on the streets.

"What happened was the Mexican drug traffickers capitalized on that, and they began to flood the us market with heroin," she said.

Dak Wasson is a chemical dependency counselor for Edgewood Seattle and says his office has seen an increase in new patients.

"We're seeing opiate addiction on the rise," Wasson said. "A lot of people who come into this agency for assessments are here for opiate addiction."

And those opiates could be heroin or pain killers like Oxycontin which is why the DEA launched a campaign reminding people that dealing prescription drugs is illegal too.

"A lot of times the prescriptions that we see out there are coming from the home medicine cabinet. They're coming from family and friends and they are on the black market," Underwood said.

The agency wants that market closed down and to see those numbers drop.

"We want to identify these individuals, apprehend them, and hold them accountable because they are directly contributing to the epidemic that's out there and people are losing their lives," she said.

The DEA has set up an anonymously run tip line you can use to report dealers.

Just text "TIP411" and start your message with "TIPDEA."

Your text could save lives.

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