Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Thirty-five-year-old Lockport native Harry Erickson began taking prescription pain pills in 2002, starting out with two or three a day. Two or three quickly turned into 17, and that was just to get out of bed in the morning.
As he started taking more and more potent pills, the cost started rising. Erickson did what a lot of opiate addicts do: He started sniffing heroin, which eventually led to him shooting the drug.
”I used to always tell myself that I would never do heroin. Never, never never,” he said. “When you get sick, and you’re going through withdrawals, you’re going to try anything.”
Instead of paying $100 for a pill, Erickson started paying $10 for a bag of heroin. One bag, however, wasn’t enough.
”One bag only lasts for a few hours,” he said. “Then you’re taking two at a time, three at a time. It just never ends.”
For those in the midst of an addiction to opiates, the only thing that matters is getting high. Family, friends, work and following the law all fall by the wayside. The pursuit of the drug, whether it’s heroin or prescription pain pills, becomes the focus of an addict’s life.
Through conversations with city and county law enforcement officials, recovering addicts, drug court officials and drug counselors in Niagara County, one thing is clear: The use of opiates, especially heroin, is on the rise in the region.
”In 34 years in law enforcement, I’ve never seen heroin use this bad,” Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert said. In the city, “there’s probably been more in the last three or four months than the last 34 years.”
Niagara County Undersheriff Michael Filicetti stopped short of calling the issue an epidemic countywide, but did say heroin use is on the rise.