Heroin has a new face. Where once its abuse was documented in horrific photographs of strung-out junkies, today it's in the hands of young people who play sports, excel in the classroom, and earn high praise from their colleagues at work.
It also has a different home. Once confined to the inner cities, it has infiltrated small towns and schools. It has arrived in southern Chester County by way of the I-95 corridor and nearby Wilmington and Philadelphia. A dose of heroin can be purchased nearly anywhere for as little as $5.
What's happening here is part of an epidemic in America. Between 1995 and 2002, the number of our nation's teenagers who have admitted to using heroin at one point in their young lives increased 300 percent. The availability of high-purity heroin makes snorting or smoking it viable options, instead of injecting it.
In the second part of this series, we meet Dr. Alex Fernandez of the emergency department at Jennersville Regional Hospital, where patients who have overdosed hang between life and death.