Heroin Epidemic in Central PA
Heroin, it’s been in the headlines recently, with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, to bad batches of it showing up as close as Pittsburgh.
Even the Attorney General is warning that these dangerous mixes of Heroin and Fetanoyl could be spreading across the state.
Although the drug is getting a lot of attention now -it’s been a problem in Lancaster County for years.
“I played sports growing up, straight A student, always did well in school, three sport athlete, did everything that was expected of me.” Said Craig Gatchell, Manager at The Gate House.
Gatchell considered himself a typical teenager. He played football for Manheim Central, and did well in school. But he had sort of a dark side. He took his first drink at age 12 and experimented with drugs at 13.
“I`m not proud I spent time in jail, I`m not proud that I robbed people, and I regret the people I hurt,” said Gatchell.
His drug use then escalated, “Heroine is stronger I worked my way up I went from Perkosets, Vicodin, Oxy, and the Heroine. But the main reason I switched is it`s readily available, it`s cheaper, and you can get it anywhere. You don`t have to wait for a prescription to come in.”
Gatchell’s story points to a growing problem.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman says there’s a rise in the use of Heroin in the Lancaster County Area.
“Heroine has always been a problem in Lancaster county. I would say it`s more of a problem than it used to be and I would attribute that to the fact that it`s much cheaper than it was 20 years ago.” Said Stedman
The cheap and easy to find drug has found it’s way into the hands of adults and teenagers across all demographics.
Fern Wilcox, a Clinical Supervisor at the drug and alcohol treatment center, The Gate House in Lititz says, “I think we`re in an environment of an epidemic.” She says this drug doesn’t discriminate, “Probably within the past 8 to 10 years there`s been a shift away from alcohol and cocaine the majority of what we`re seeing – 85% is heroine addiction.”
And Lancaster County’s location plays a role in the drug’s popularity among users and dealers.
“The 222 corridor we get supplies from New York, Philadelphia, and Balitmore and it`s a central location for dealers to come in and make a lot of money.” Said Steadman. He doesn’t see the drug use slowing down any time soon, “I think people would be shocked. I think a lot of people living in the county when I talk to them about how much drug usage we have really and It`s throughout the county Heroine usage isn`t just in Lancaster city.”
Gatchell has stayed sober for a little more than two years, a graduate of The Gate House. He now works there as a House Manager.
“The life I have today Is way beyond anything I would have imagined before.” says Gatchell.
Helping those where he has been he feels, “Lucky to be a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I`ll tell anybody that because today I wake up and not be sick it`s a miracle. To wake up and not have to worry about how am I going to get 100 dollars to get through today.”
For more information on drug and alcohol treatment at The Gate House visit: http://gatehouse.org/