PONTIAC (WWJ) – Sheriff Mike Bouchard says they’ve seen a 300 percent increase in the number of heroin-related cases in Oakland County from last year.

“And last year was up tremendously, so you can see the trend here,” he said.

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Talking to WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jon Hewett, Bouchard said local authorities are working to educate the public about the growing epidemic.

Among the biggest things parents can do, he said, is to guard against prescription drug access and abuse in the home.

“When that supply runs out — whether it’s mom and dad’s medicine cabinet or grandparents’ or whatever — the young people then go to seek those on the street,” Bouchard said. “Then what you find out is on the street that pill, individually, costs more than a bundle of heroin; so then it becomes almost an economic thing as well.”

What’s especially troubling, Bouchard said, is the strength of the drug now available.

“The purity and the strength of heroin, if you will, used to be from three to 10 percent or so, because it was cut so many time for profit motive — they used to call it stepped on,” he said. “Now, it’s 80 or 90 percent of pure heroin.”

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“So, that’s why you’re having so many overdoses. They’re trying out heroin, and sometimes on the very first time overdosing.”

Oakland County is hosting  an open forum Wednesday night to discuss the recent uptick in heroin use across the metro Detroit region.

Bouchard said the explosion of heroin use and addiction — not only in metro Detroit, but across the entire country — is going to take a public intervention.

“It really needs to be a community-wide effort that includes education, includes rehabilitation, includes punishment — law enforcement to go after the dealers of this stuff,” Bouchard said.

The meeting takes place Wednesday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m. inside of the County Commissioners Auditorium, 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Bldg. 12E, in Pontiac.

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