Opioid Addiction

Opiates Final Final
Image does not exist

Opioid Addiction 

By: Officer Joshua Keenan

Addiction is described as a complex condition or brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. Since the 1990s, communities all over the United States, including Norristown, have been struggling to deal with the devastating effects of the incredibly addictive properties of heroin and other opiate-based medications. Commonly referred to as the Opioid Epidemic or Opioid Crisis, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 70,200 overdose deaths in the United States in 2017. Many of these deaths were caused by synthetic substance Fentanyl.  

Fentanyl is a potent substance that is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl is commonly added to, or sold in place of, heroin or prescription opiates by drug dealers looking to maximize their profits. Due to the strength of fentanyl and the unregulated amounts added by drug dealers, drug users often find themselves unknowingly consuming large quantities of the drug. An overdose of Fentanyl can cause serious medical complications, including death.

The thought of becoming addicted to a substance like heroin is a foreign concept that may be difficult for many to imagine. But the truth is, opiate addiction is a disease that can affect anyone, and it does not discriminate based on race, age, wealth, sex, or religious belief. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, trades workers, and yes, even police officers, are equally susceptible to addiction. Heroin and other opiate-based medications are arguably one of, if not the most, addictive substances. Opiates have been used medicinally for thousands of years. These powerful substances are incredibly effective at managing pain; however, an individual will require larger amounts of the medication over time to achieve the same level of pain relief. Approximately 80 percent of those addicted to heroin began with misusing prescription medication.

Although this is an extremely complicated issue that requires a multi-faceted approach beyond just law enforcement, the Norristown Police Department has suggestions to help.

For families:

  • Keep medications in a safe place. Limit your children’s access to prescription medications. If you or your family no longer has a use for the medication, you can bring your unused or expired medication to the Norristown Police Department for disposal.
  • Only take medication as prescribed by your physician. Prescription medications are effective when used appropriately, but taking medication more frequently, in larger doses, or in a different method than prescribed can lead the way to addiction.
  • Do not take someone else's medication. Physicians prescribe medication after completing thorough reviews of a patient's current condition as well as past medical history.
  • Do not give someone else your medication. Giving another person medication provided for you is not only unsafe; it is illegal. Distributing certain prescription medications is a felony. If someone overdoses on medication that you provided them, you can be charged criminally for their death.  
  • Talk to your family members and children. If you notice any sudden behavior changes or mood swings, this can be a sign of prescription drug misuse or drug addiction. It is best to treat addiction early on, and the first step to begin treatment is to identify an issue. Know who your children hang out with and have regular, open, discussions with your children about the dangers of all drug abuse, including prescription medications.

For Residents:

  • If you notice a particular house or street corner has an increase in foot traffic or vehicle traffic that looks suspicious contact police. While the Norristown Police Department strives to stay ahead of drug markets in town, tips and information from the community are crucial. Anonymous tips can be left on our Crime Tip Line at 610-278- 8477 or can be sent by email to NPDTips@norristown.org
  • If your vehicle or home has been broken into, contact police. Thefts and property crimes can be a sign of a drug trend emerging in a neighborhood. We cannot address a crime if we are not aware it occurred.
  • Contact police if someone attempts to sell you drugs. Many drug dealers are bold enough to offer to sell drugs to strangers. Contact Norristown Police immediately and provide their location as well as a description of the person or their vehicle.

For Those Dealing with Addiction or Dependence:

  • If you or a family member are currently dealing with drug addiction or dependence, professional help is needed. Norristown Police can connect you with community partners able to guide you through the treatment process.  Contact Norristown Police at 610-270-0977 or Montgomery County Mobile Crisis at 1-855-634- HOPE (4673). We are available 24/7 if you or a family member need immediate assistance.
  • There is also a Teen Talk Line that can be reached by calling 1-866-825-5856 or texting 215-703-8411 and it is available Monday through Friday 3 PM – 9 PM.

The Norristown Police Department is genuinely committed to doing our part to combat the Nationwide Opioid Crisis. If you or a family member needs help with drug addiction or dependence, the first step is to identify the problem and reach out to professionals trained in assisting you. While members of the Norristown Police Department focus on holding drug dealers accountable in a court of law, we can't do it alone. If you believe a drug market or drug activity is present in your neighborhood, call 911 or 610-270-0977 immediately so that we can work together to keep our community drug free and safe.