Heroin use on the rise in Yakima County - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Heroin use on the rise in Yakima County

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Yakima, WASH.--More and more people walking into drug and alcohol treatment centers are claiming opiates are their drug of choice.

Teresa Davis, a spokesperson for the Yakima County Drug and Alcohol Center said people generally get hooked while taking oxycontin. However, when the pain medication runs out, they turn to something else.

"Their doctors will no longer prescribe those medications or they've used up all of those resources," said Davis. "Then they do turn to heroin as an alternative because it is cheaper. It's easier to get."

Henry Young said, "How did I get addicted to heroin? Because I knew a lot of people around here deal with it, and it's sad. It's sad in this town."

"The problem I see the worst is probably just the continuing cycle of drug addicts going to jail, not getting any help from anybody, getting released back out and just going right back into their pit," said Anthony Aman. Aman recently graduated the Yakima County Drug Program.

In the last two years, the county has seen a jump in heroin addiction cases, from 109 cases in 2009 to 169 in 2011. People under 21 are still the majority of heroin users, and they start by finding drugs at home.

"Mom's had a surgery and she only took two of the 30 pills, and so that youth is going on and taking the rest of those," said Davis.

Counselors said heroin is extremely addictive and dangerous.

"There's no pain," said Davis. "There's no emotional pain, no physical pain. That's all gone."

A nearly $1 million grant for the Yakima County Drug Court Program will help people with heroin addictions, as well as other drug problems.

The program currently helps around 20 people, but that will soon expand to 50 people per year.