JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Heroin use is increasing in Josephine County and it doesn’t help that one of the resources available to help these addicts, a methadone clinic in Grants Pass, was shut down five years ago.
Sources say reopening the methadone clinic for those who suffer from heroin and other drug addictions is a possibility for the future. Securing Our Safety (SOS) group members are working with Jackson County officials to get the clinic started.
The idea of these centers is to reduce the use of heroin or other opiates by giving patients methadone. SOS members say people are not getting the help they need and are either traveling to Medford to seek treatment, or turning to criminal activity to pay for their habit.
A Josephine County Deputy District Attorney says in the last several years, drug cases with marijuana has dropped while the number of heroin cases has increased. In 2010 the D.A.’s office prosecuted 4 heroin cases, in 2011 they prosecuted 22 heroin cases, and in 2012 despite budget cuts which reduced staff, they prosecuted 32 cases.
One SOS member, Elizabeth Hirni, hopes the clinic will reduce crime but also reduce problems she see’s first-hand at the hospital.
“As a physician, I’ve seen an increase in the use of IV heroin, which is concerning as well because that opens a whole bunch of problems such as infections,” Hirni said.
The Josephine County Health Department also said more babies are being born addicted to heroin in the last several years. As of now, more details need to be worked out, like how this clinic will be funded and where it will be located. SOS group members plan to continue the discussion with Josephine County Officials as well as those at the methadone clinic in Medford.