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Delray heroin epidemic worse than ever

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Posted at 4:50 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-14 14:43:36-04

Delray Beach is home to beautiful beaches, a world class downtown and more than 10 overdoses a week, according to first responders.   

"The quality of life for our community is deteriorating,” said Delray Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman.

He says honesty in the best way to handle this epidemic which is turning into a world-class problem.

“I think it’s a very big deal to the community,” Chief Goldman said. “We are going to need some serious help from our federal partners.”

Chief Goldman said people are now overdosing and dying in public sight and needles are being found in playgrounds.

“This would be an area where kids would come out and play and we’ve had needles found,” he said.

A former addict recounted the lengths and depths he would go to continue the habit.

When asked how many times he had been in and out of rehab, he said: “Countless times, countless times. I couldn’t put a number on it.”

The problem is so bad in Delray Beach that he said, “It makes me concerned, it makes me feel helpless.”

He said talking about the problem matters more because more people are dying at a faster rate.

Police say they’ve gotten call after call of drug activity at one abandoned home. Just down the street they say they had four heroin overdoses in a neighborhood where kids play.

“We are starting to contact the owners of the residence and what we’re finding are that these individuals are absentee landlords or they really don’t know who is renting their property,” said Chief Goldman.

That’s one new initiative.

Delray Beach Fire Rescue and police now carry Narcan which is used to reverse the effects of an overdose.  They have administered an average of 15 doses every week since the start of the year.

The cost of administering is at least $40 per dose, but some people need several.

Chief Goldman also wants to hire a clinical social worker to help the addicts after detectives talk with them.

“Someone that we can introduce them to and say, 'hey we want you to get healthy and productive,' ” he said.

“It’s going to take a lot of work to even make a dent in what’s going on, because you have to remember Delray is a great place to get sober, but it’s also a target for drug dealers,” said the former addict.

“I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel yet,” Chief Goldman said.