Summit discusses growing heroin epidemic - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Summit discusses growing heroin epidemic

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Today, law enforcement leaders from around the area came together on the campus of UAB  for a summit addressing the growing heroin epidemic.

From 2008 to 2012, deaths from a heroin overdose have seen a 405% increase. Public Health Officials identified this problem largely in Jefferson, Shelby and Tuscaloosa Counties.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that can be deadly. Ronnie and Beverly Mims have learned the dangers of heroin first hand.

On March 20, 2013, their son Baker Mims was found dead from a heroin overdose.

“Our son was such a good kid and so many people think that this doesn't happen to a good kid,” Beverly Mims said.

Baker Mims is described as athletic and smart. He was awarded a full academic scholarship to the University of Alabama.  Ronnie and Beverly never dreamed this would happen to their child.

"This is the one thing you don't want to play with. Don't experiment with it. It's just that one time and then there may be no turning back," Ronnie Mims expressed.

In the last year, law enforcement made strides in combating this epidemic. In September of 2013, an initiative by law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office resulted in the indictments of 49 heroin dealers.

But U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance says it’s not good enough.

“We can't arrest our way out of this problem. We need a community strategy for preventing addiction; a community strategy for treating addiction, “Vance said.

Today’s summit was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama, the UAB School of Public Health, and the Jefferson County Department of Public Health. Law enforcement agencies, health professionals and educators from around the area were in attendance.

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