Vashon Island sees rise in heroin use


by By / KING 5 News

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 18 at 1:14 PM

Video: Vashon Island sees rise in heroin use

VASHON ISLAND, Wash. - Some Vashon Island residents say the use of heroin and other drugs is on the rise.

Drug counselors on the island say they've just started seeing clients with heroin addiction. By the numbers, it's not a huge percentage. But on an island with just a little over 10,000 residents, it has become a big issue.

Dr. Stephen Bogan, a drug and alcohol counselor, says he's seen a sharp rise in young patients with heroin addictions.

"There is a supply issue," says Bogan. "The availability is here and that's a problem"

Bogan says heroin addiction can be particularly hard to break, because when a person stops using it creates a "dysphoric" effect that addicts think can only be turned around by another hit.

The sheriff's office says it's not surprised.

"Communities tend to think they're isolated from the drug problem, when in reality they're not," King County Sheriff's spokesperson John Urquhart said. "Most of the problems we've had on Vashon have been marijuana quite frankly, marijuana grows or people selling marijuana."

Some students like Vashon High School junior Meme Garcia are trying to make a difference by staging a play designed to call attention to the issue.

"We're trying to get parents' attention because a lot of them are ambivalent to substance abuse and youth substance abuse, and we're just trying to get them to wake up," Garcia said.

She thinks the dialogue will make people think twice about using heroin or any other drug in the future.

"I just hope people make healthy decisions," Garcia said.