Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is on the rise in the state of Texas, but according to a local law enforcement official doesn’t have a big presence in the Stephenville community as of now.

“We’ve got a little heroin here, but we haven’t made any arrests in a while. Our drug of choice in Stephenville is meth,” Stephenville’s Criminal Investigations Department Narcotics Lt. Don Miller said. “The heroin people here are very tight knit and it’s almost impossible to penetrate it. We’re sure that it’s here, but we don’t have any active cases on heroin dealers and there could be something going on that we just don’t know about but there are very few people addicted and an outsider isn’t just going to come in and make a buy.”

A previous project by the E-T called “The bane of meth” detailed that methamphetamine is the primary drug in Stephenville, however, according to a study written by Dr. Jane C. Maxwell called Substance Abuse Trends in Texas, heroin is a growing problem in the state of Texas mainly among teenagers and young adults.

“Heroin indicators show a growing problem, particularly among teenagers and young adults. This was first noticed with the ‘cheese heroin’ situation in Dallas in the mid-2000s, but heroin use indicators for youth and young adults are now increasing statewide,” Maxwell wrote. “The increase in young clients entering treatment for dependence on heroin is a concern. The proportion of heroin clients younger than 30 increased from 40 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2013.”

From 1999-2013 there have been a total of 3,628 deaths related to heroin use in Texas.

Terah Gibson is the new director of Treatment Services at Stephenville’s STAR Council organization and has experience working with those struggling with substance abuse starting at the Cenikor Foundation in Fort Worth - a two year rehab center for adults - and then MHMR working with adolescents.

Gibson agrees that heroin addiction isn’t the primary drug of abuse in Stephenville and has only worked with a handful of heroin users.

“I’ve had a few, when I was at Cenikor mostly, but few and far between; it was mostly meth,” she said.

She said heroin addiction can stem from prescription medication abuse, but that there is more research being done on genetic links to addiction.

“It’s more of a pill thing than it is a heroin thing,” she said. “People get addicted to prescription meds and then they can’t get them anymore because the government is tightening the grip on it, so they go to what they can get.”

According to statistics provided by STAR Council in the number of cases received over the past three years, opioid addiction ranks fourth out of eight different categories of substance abuse with 86 cases.

Methamphetamine ranked number one with 804 cases, marijuana second with 679 cases and alcohol dependence third with 242 cases.

STAR Council offers a variety of services for those struggling with substance abuse and more information can be found by visiting www.starcouncil.org or by calling the Stephenville location at 254-965-5515.

“This is a life-long disease. It’s not something that you go and get treatment and then you’re all better; you’re constantly tested. The ultimate thing is to not give up and reach out to the people who are there to support you and can help you,” Gibson said. “It is very difficult and affects all aspects of life, but you have to admit that you have a problem and be cognizant of what your struggles are. It’s going to be hard work, but you’re definitely worth it and you can do it.”