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Heroin overdose deaths on the rise

 
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Police and doctors believe a local resurgence in the popularity of heroin is responsible for some of the 10 deaths attributed to drug overdoses so far this year.

Heroin may be more commonly associated in the public mind with tough urban neighborhoods than the shady streets of a central Indiana college town. But police do not believe the drug is a newcomer to Bloomington.

"My sense is that it's not a new problem, but it has increased, and its use has probably expanded across a lot of socioeconomic groups," police Capt. Joe Qualters said last week.

Qualters said he first saw signs of a local heroin market three to five years ago.

This year, local and federal investigators report they have bought a combined total of more than 40 grams of heroin from local dealers through undercover agents at $300 to $400 a gram.

Each gram of heroin usually produces about 10 doses, but that varies according to purity, detective Bill Jeffers said.

The more pure the heroin, the more powerful -- and potentially deadly -- it is.

During two days in July, one Bloomington family lost two members to heroin, according to coroner's reports.

Roberta Kelley found her 22-year-old son Ryan Kelley convulsing on the floor of his bedroom on July 12 after he apparently injected himself with pure heroin. He died before the ambulance arrived.

The following morning she found her husband, Michael Kelley, dead from an overdose of the same drug.

Police said the father and son were apparently using heroin together the morning Ryan Kelley died. Michael Kelley bought the heroin, which was "uncut" or pure.

Michael Kelley told a relative he had been warned about the purity of the heroin when he bought it, but did not realize how strong it was.

Roberta Kelley told The Herald-Times she believed her husband died from a reaction between the heroin and an anti-anxiety medication a doctor had prescribed.

The father and son were among seven Monroe County residents who have died since May of apparent drug or alcohol overdoses, according to police reports and coroner's office statistics.

Those who died ranged in age from 19 to 54. Nine were men, and one was a woman. All but two of the victims, including the Kelleys, had several drugs in their system when they died, authorities said.

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