A recent spike in heroin overdoses, including two deaths, has Watertown Police concerned.
Heroin use is not new in town, but the number of overdoses seen over the past two weeks is high, said Watertown Police Lt. Michael Lawn.
“Over the past two weeks we have seen five overdoses. Two resulted in death,” Lawn said.
Both were Watertown residents in their early 40s, Lawn said.
“We are investigating to figure out if the (overdoses) were from the same batch of heroin,” Lawn said, noting that they are being assisted by the State Police.
He added that the dead body found by the Charles River last week was not a heroin related death.
The high number of heroin overdoses and those from other opioids has been seen across Massachusetts, according to a study by reseachers at Boston University.
“The rate of opioid overdose continues to rise and is a major cause of preventable death. Opioid related overdose deaths have exceeded the number of motor vehicle deaths each year since 2005 in Massachusetts and are the leading cause of injury death in the commonwealth,” according to a summary of the study.
While heroin use has been seen in town for years, Lawn said the amount of use has police and others concerned.
“It is becoming a problem,” Lawn said. “It has been going on for the last few years, and it is increasing in Watertown.”
A study of Watertown High School students done by the Watertown Youth Coaltion found that the use of heroin is higher than the state average.
Police find that many heroin users first got hooked on prescription opiods, such as Percocet and other pain relievers.
“It has become a lot harder to get (prescription opiods) and a lot more expensive, so people turn to heroin. It’s a lot cheaper,” Lawn said.
The increased use of heroin and prescriptions opoids may factor in the increase in home robberies in Watertown. Lawn said addicts will steal items to sell, sometimes from their own family.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” he said.