GREENUP COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Just this week, the Greenup County Sheriff's Department made a heroin bust following a routine traffic stop. Deputies pulled $8,000 worth of heroin off the street.
For Sheriff Keith Cooper, it's a frustrating trend with no end in sight.
"It's enough to make you tug on your hair if you don't pull it out," Cooper said. "Pills are harder to come by now, and people are going to heroin."
Cooper says the difference with heroin is how deadly it can be, even for first-time users.
"Extremely habit forming, extremely addicting, and extremely deadly," he said.
It's the same story for Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas who's seen firsthand how deadly the drug can be.
"The number of overdose deaths in Cabell County has risen in the past several months," McComas said. "The heroin overdoses in the last four, six, eight months have really increased."
According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, there was a 53 percent increase in overdose deaths in the state between 2011 and 2012, and more than 240 deaths between 2007 and 2012.
So far this year, the Ohio Highway Patrol has pulled more than 17,000 grams of heroin off the streets.
"We in the law enforcement community as well as the emergency medical community and hospitals have seen a definite uptick in the number of heroin overdoses, and actually the overdose deaths because of that," McComas said.
For emergency physicians like King's Daughters Medical Center's Alex Krivchenia, seeing drug users switch from pills to heroin is especially worrisome.
"The other problem with heroin is you don't know what's in it," Krivchenia said. "It's not medical grade. You don't know what its cut with. The human toll is really heartbreaking."
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