There’s a Heroin Problem… in Bay Ridge?!

Photo by Michael Gargiulo

Since Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an overdose, the scourge of heroin is back in headlines, including in our local Brooklyn papers. In fact, the Brooklyn Eagle reports that heroin is ravaging communities in southern Brooklyn: “More than a dozen young people under the age of 21 have died of heroin overdoses in… Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst in recent years, according to [State Senator Marty] Golden, who said the alarming rate of drug deaths is a call to action.”

The Republican blames the drug’s availability and low prices, particularly after efforts spearheaded by him and others made it more difficult to get prescription drugs like Oxycodone. “You can buy a ‘nickel bag’ for as little as $5 or $10,” Golden told the Eagle. (Nickel bags for $10?!) “That’s cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.”

Dealers sell “out of cars, out of the clubs, out of houses,” the state senator said, and cited three corners as particular hotspots: 93rd and Third Avenue, near 93 Lounge, the infamous night club that lost its liquor license last summer (and anyway had more of a reputation for attracting crackheads); 74th and Sixth Avenue, which the Eagle itself reported almost a year ago as overrun with drug-dealing (a bit hyperbolically, quoting neighbors who felt imprisoned in their homes!); and 72nd and Fifth Avenue, where a once-shady bodega now calls itself on its awning (no kidding) “Now We Change Deli and Grocery,” and advertises on a handwritten piece of oaktag in the window that the owner will call 911 on loiterers (and anyway, that place had more of a reputation for marijuana).

Which is to say that most of these “hotspots” are no longer particularly problematic; you can’t help but feel Golden is engaging in a bit of scaremongering here, because being hard on crime (drugs are crime!) plays well with the older middle- and upper-class people that form his base. He also says, “Once you take [heroin], you’re hooked,” which certainly isn’t true: lots of people try heroin once, maybe even twice, and never do it again. Still, others do become addicted, and it’s smart to use a combination of education and enforcement to keep it out of the hands of young people in particular. Can’t you kids smoke pot like normal teenagers?

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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