Federal prosecutors highlight heroin dangers in new film
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The nation's heroin epidemic is killing dozens of people each day.
In 2013, more people died from heroin-related deaths than from car accidents and firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The epidemic has reached Alabama. Coroner reports show that 100 people have died in Jefferson County alone this year from heroin and Fentanyl-related overdoses.
Officials say the key to saving lives, is education; the legal impact of heroin doesn't start with illicit street drugs, it begins with prescription pain pills.
Drugs classified as opioids, like OxyContin, hydrocodone, and codeine, are highly addictive prescription painkillers and serve as gateway drugs for heroin use.
George Beck, U.S. Attorney for Alabama's Middle District explains those who are addicted to opioids, by way of legal prescriptions or recreational use, generally transition to heroin or Fentanyl when the user loses access to the pills or seeks a stronger high.
"It's not a respecter of persons of neither race, sex nor financial status," Beck explained. "We are finding young college students are trying to experiment and we are having overdose deaths in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and all over the state of Alabama."
The U.S. Attorney's Office is generally forced to be reactive to major drug crimes. But the heroin epidemic is forcing prosecutors out of the courtroom and into the community, to attempt to educate high school and college students about the dangers of experimenting with opioids.
"That's how dangerous this is, we want the public to be aware of it", Beck said. "We want them to monitor the pills in their cabinets, we want them to know how dangerous this is so we can prevent the death or serious injury.
On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's Office brought in students from across the region to the Capri Theater in Montgomery to show the FBI's new movie, "Chasing the Dragon". The movie is named after the street slang for addicts who continue to chase the next big high.
The FBI created the movie after realizing they were successfully taking down the drug supply, but little was being offered to the public as education to prevent opioid use and its roadmap to heroin.
Beck watched the movie before the screening and says it shows the unfortunate reality of this deadly drug.
"What gets me is the overwhelming urge to reach that new high," Beck said. "When they initially hit this drug and they think they are rehabilitated and they go right back to an old habit."
It's a script that Beck, and his staff, hopes will only be written in this movie, and not in Alabama's Middle District.
You can watch the film here.
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