With tighter regulations on prescription painkillers, individuals are increasingly finding cheaper alternatives on the streets.
For many, this alternative appears to be heroin, said Wichita Mountain Prevention Network Carter County coordinator Lisa Jackson. Earlier this week, on July 2, Ardmore Police Department officers apprehended a 26-year-old resident for the possession of heroin, among other complaints.
 The driver was initially pulled over due to speeding, APD Captain Keith Ingle said. However, his nervous demeanor led police to ask the individual if he had anything illegal in his vehicle, Ingle said.
The man allegedly admitted that he had meth and heroin in his possession, Ingle said. A complaint for possession of heroin isn’t particularly unusual, but only a few years ago it would’ve been, he said.
“It’s starting to come into Ardmore now. We’re seeing it more and more,” Ingle said. “I worked here for 20 years and only saw it twice and then in the last two years I’ve seen it 20 times — so it’s a big increase.”
The staggering numbers of deaths from individuals overdosing on opioids has led to a national response in recent years and the drugs are becoming more heavily regulated and harder to access, Jackson said.
These painkillers had previously been over-prescribed and include hydrocodone, morphine, tramadol, oxycodone, codeine, and others, she said.
“I think that with the changes in the opioid laws that we’ve seen recently, people aren’t able to get the prescription drugs that they were getting before,” Jackson said. “And I think a lot of times, if they can’t get the prescription, they eventually go to heroin if they’re an addict.”
Heroin in itself is an illegal opioid, primarily brought into Oklahoma from Mexico and sold for around $25 per bag on the streets, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center.
In 2017, nearly 494,000 people in the United States reported using heroin in the previous year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And heroin overdoses in Oklahoma are on the rise.
In 2015, there were 31 reported heroin overdoses in Oklahoma. That number rose to 49 in 2016 and 61 in 2017, according to the CDCP.
Carter, Garvin and McClain counties were also among those in the state with some of the highest mortality rates, according to a report by the Rural Oklahoma Medication Assisted Treatment Expansion Project.
“It appears that the increase in opioid addiction and dependence, along with a decrease in narcotic drug accessibility, has recently contributed to the growth in heroin abuse in the United States,” Jackson said. “And Carter County is not immune from this growing trend.”