Last updated: March 25. 2014 11:32AM - 830 Views

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If the South cares to learn a “what not to do” lesson from the North, it will begin formulating a strategy to turn back heroin trafficking before the drug drives ol’ Dixie down.

Starting today in the Bladen Journal, and continuing for three consecutive Friday’s, is a three-part series about the damaging effects of heroin use.

Interviews with local law enforcement and health officials by 35 Civitas Media newspapers in 12 states found big differences between heroin’s addictive grip on northern states as opposed to those in the South.

Heroin addiction in the North is about:

— Mexican drug cartels hooking up with violent gangs such as “Sex. Money and Murder” in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where it distributed 1.5 million heroin packets over a three-year period.

— Increases in home burglaries in cities like Alton and Jacksonville, Ill., and retail robbery rings from Dayton, Ohio, traversing up and down Interstate 75.

— Addicts with no or little health-care insurance needing treatment for serious conditions such as overdoses, spontaneous abortions, infectious diseases like hepatitis, pulmonary complications and pneumonia. The Ohio Department of Health indicates that drug overdoses cost Ohioans $1.9 billion on average each year in medical costs.

— Families destroyed. Lives lost. Nearly double the number of users — now approaching 700,000 — in three moths.

“It’s a monkey like no other and that monkey is almost impossible to get off your back,” Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth told the Record Herald newspaper in Washington Court House, Ohio.

What’s unexplainable in the North is how heroin gained such a foothold without people having any warning signs. Or, maybe the signs were slapping Yankees in the face and the problem kept getting brushed away for another day.

Are Southerners about to make that same mistake?

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