York City police hold forum to educate public on heroin and addiction

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YORK, Pa. -- Heroin and opioid abuse is a growing epidemic here in Pennsylvania and across the country.

With 76 heroin-related deaths last year in York County alone, and 35 already this year, detectives from York spoke to people in the area about the dangers of the drug.

York City Detective Andrew Shaffer said, "The increase we've seen in the past three to five years is unbelievable. We've always had heroin in the county here. But just in the past three-to-five years it has taken off."

York City police spoke with people across Central Pennsylvania about heroin and other narcotics, stressing that the drugs being used today are different than what was used in the past.

Shaffer said, "We sent a drug up to Pennsylvania State Police for testing. It's coming back almost pure fentanyl, and we've been seeing a rise in that in the past 3-6 months."

Detectives showed people what heroin looks like and how it's packaged. People were also able to ask questions about the drug.

Parents of loved ones who have used heroin came out to listen in and learn more about the potentially deadly drug.

Wendy Miller, from Springettsbury Township, said, "My son who is sober now, 16 months sober, due to the vivitrol injection. Without that i don't think he'd be alive today."

Miller's son became addicted to opiates, and later heroin, eight years ago.

Miller said, "It wasn't like it is today, and I struggled. I struggled a long time with him with his addiction."

For Lori Mishler, her daughter wasn't as lucky. The 25-year-old died from a heroin overdose in 2015. Mishler said addiction can happen to anyone.

Mishler said, "It's not the street people they call or the junkies. It's from every aspect in life. My daughter grew up in a good home. She had everything she ever wanted, and she ended up six feet under."

She and her husband, Terry, have attended many forums, and encourage others to educate themselves on heroin.

Terry said, "It's not just for the addicts side of the house, but it's also for the families because the families are affected as well. You got to break the shame off of the addiction. It's a disease."

York City detectives said they plan to continue with these forums all over Central Pennsylvania in the future.

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