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OUR VIEW: Hudson's dark underbelly - heroin

We know, and often brag, about the wonderful community in which we live -- but it has its dark underbelly also. This "dark side" needs to be addressed.

A feature in this week's Star-Observer talks about a growing heroin problem in Hudson and the surrounding area. And it's not just talk, it's a serious problem. In the past couple of years there have been four deaths locally, and eight or nine deaths within a few miles of Hudson -- all probably heroin related.

In the past year, Hudson police have arrested seven people for selling heroin and other controlled substances in the city.

Many of us think of heroin users as down-and-out vagrants injecting the drug into their bodies in a dark back alley somewhere in a big city. Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen provides a different view, however. He said today's heroin user is more likely to become addicted to prescription painkillers (like Oxycodone and Vicodin). They have the same opium base as heroin. Heroin, however, is a lot cheaper than the prescription pills, and a heroin habit is born.

Local police said the community would be surprised by the number of young people who are addicted in the Hudson area and they all know where to get the drugs they need. Even with the arrests, local police believe there are still several dealers selling in the city and even more in the wider Hudson area.

The heroin being sold in Hudson is also very potent according to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Most of the heroin being supplied to Hudson users, commonly referred to as "black tar," originates in the Middle East, most often from Afghanistan.

Needless to say, heroin is a very dangerous drug. It's easy to overdose and the drug can shut down the organs of even a young user very quickly. Police say the average user in Hudson is between the ages of 19-24 and usage cuts across all socio-economic groups in the community.

So what can be done?

Sometimes drug issues can seem impossible, but it is possible to save some young people in the future. Remember -- it wasn't too many years ago when St. Croix County and western Wisconsin was a hot-bed in the use of methamphetamine.

Using the combination of local police and county resources, including the drug task force of St. Croix, Pierce and Polk counties, the methamphetamine problem has been all but beaten down. Let's hope the same success can be achieved in the fight against heroin. The life of a young person reading this message is riding in the balance, and dependent on stopping the flow of heroin.

If you have any information about the heroin problem, call the Hudson police (715) 386-4771 to talk confidentially with an investigator. Your information could save the life of a friend, neighbor or family member.