Heroin: Behind the Headlines

Before Philip Seymour Hoffman died, it was a taboo topic. Now it's making national headlines

Four months ago, I started reporting a story about black-tar heroin in Charlotte. At the time, it was a struggle to get anyone to return my phone calls. I was asking questions about teenagers and young professionals using the drug, and few people were eager to respond. "No one talks about heroin," Charlotte-Mecklenburg police lieutenant Nathan King told me. "You barely have the conversation going on within society, let alone with the schools."

Because I am stubborn, and because the things I was learning about the drug frightened me, I kept reporting the story. On the last day of January, it finally went to press. (You can read it here). Two days later, Philip Seymour Hoffman died with a needle in his arm.

Now, understandably, the headlines about heroin are everywhere. You can read about a small town in Wisconsin's struggle with the drug in the New York Times. To learn about how heroin use has exploded nationally in the last decade, this article in the The Wall Street Journal is helpful. And The Atlantic has an important, first-person story, written by a recovering addict, about preventing overdose and death.

I hope you will also read about how heroin is impacting young people in Charlotte, including a bright, beloved Queens University student named Alex Uhler. Then, perhaps, our city can have a much-needed conversation.

Categories: The Buzz, Trade & Tryon