Rise in heroin usage linked to prescription drug abuse

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(WEAU)--Heroin, once a considered a ‘big city’ drug is popping in up in cities across Western Wisconsin.

The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department says already in 2013, deputies have investigated eight heroin buys--nearly double what they did all of last year.

Sheriff Ron Cramer says what is most alarming is that the increase in heroin use in Western Wisconsin is being linked to the abuse of prescription drugs.

"It started for me with one pill.”

L.E Phillips Libertas Center patient, who called herself ‘Jane’ because she asked her real identity be kept hidden for privacy, was prescribed oxycodone and became addicted. But when the supply ran out, she was introduced to heroin.

"I was using every day,” she said.

The jump from prescription drugs to heroin may seem extreme it's becoming the 'norm', officers say.

Ron Cramer says like many prescription pain killers heroin is an opiate based drug and often times cheaper than the pain killer.

"One of the bad parts of heroin is the purity level you never know what purity level you are hitting. You might be doing a 30% that’s pretty stepped on then you do heroin that’s 90% pure and that’s when you start to have a reaction," Cramer said.

He says in just two years, the number of heroin investigations in the county nearly doubled.

"It came through Milwaukee then to Oconto and up through door county,” Cramer said.

Back at Liberatas Center Jane is on day 11 of her recovery. She says it took one of her own family members overdosing for her to realize she needed help and hopes her story can help someone else get the help they need.

"I’m happy that I'm doing this," said Jane.