It goes by smack, boy, H and dope. You can inject, smoke or snort it.

Heroin is a dangerous, addictive opiate that has made its way into the hills of Brown County.

And for $100, a person can buy a gram of it.

During the first quarter of the year, four arrests were made in the county with some connection to heroin, Sheriff Scott Southerland said.

“I don’t think that necessarily reflects what’s actually going on,” he said. “There are guys here (in jail) telling us it’s much worse than that.”

In 2012, Southerland said, he already was seeing an increase in the use of heroin in Brown County. He was then a detective for the sheriff’s department.

Last month, he said, heroin was climbing toward the figures for methamphetamine in terms of addictions and arrests.

And addiction does not discriminate. People of different socioeconomic classes, ages and gender are affected by this problem.

“I know of a 15-year-old and I know of 60-year-olds and everywhere in between,” Southerland said.

Nurse practitioner Tania D. Frederick, who works at Nashville Family Medicine, is treating several patients who are dealing with addiction to heroin.

“The first person that I found out who used, I was absolutely floored,” she said.

What has led to such an increase in heroin use?

Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams said one factor is the recent crackdown on ingredients used to make methamphetamine.

“The Legislature did a pretty good job on clamping down on the accessibility of pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient to making meth. And I think after the clampdown, meth became a little tougher to make in quantity, and I think people turned to an alternative narcotic, and thus, the rise in heroin,” Adams said.

“It’s kind of an old-school, ’80s throwback drug that’s making its comeback.”

Heroin is also relatively easy to get, Southerland said. As long as demand is high in the county, the supply will be, too.

“They’ll use mules, literally, mules and horses, if they have to. They will figure out a way to get it here,” Southerland said.


In its purest form, heroin is a white powder made from the resin of poppy plants.

Turkey and Afghanistan are large suppliers of heroin, said Carrie Foley, an addiction counselor at the Brown County Law Enforcement Center.

It makes it way to South America and then to North America, usually from Mexico.

But first, it is cut, or diluted, with something soluble in water, like sugar or milk.

Street heroin is sometimes cut with strychnine, a highly toxic poison used in pesticide or other poisons.

Buyers have no way of telling what heroin has been cut with, which could be fatal, according to the Foundation for a Drug Free World.

In May 2012, a 25-year-old woman died in her home on Sunset Drive after she injected heroin. Southerland said her death was almost instantaneous.

And death is not the only risk.

Nearby counties, such as Jackson, have seen an increase in HIV cases from people sharing needles for drugs.

Scott County has seen 79 new HIV infections since December. Gov. Mike Pence authorized a needle-exchange program there so drug users will not share needles.


Experts said a person addicted to heroin likely is willing to do anything to get a “fix.” Users can have trouble holding down a job, so they may steal to pay for their habit, officials said.

“We caught two groups last year or the year before that were going out and doing a burglary every day,” Southerland said last fall. “They would trade their flat-screen TV for a gram of heroin every day. … If we stop that, then everything else will go down.”

In May 2012, a Brown County mother and son, Audra Popplewell and Jordan-Michael Popplewell, were sentenced for burglarizing a home in Ogilville.

In a Bartholomew County court, Jordan-Michael Popplewell testified they were heroin addicts who were strung out when they broke into the home in December 2011, and they planned to exchange the items for heroin with a dealer in Indianapolis.

He received four years in prison, and his mother received five.

The likelihood of a first-time offender being jailed for an extended period of time is low, Adams said.

Users who are arrested are likely to relapse, and local law officials try to keep them on the path to rehabilitation by using probation.

“Probation requires them to have a job, to report (to a probation officer), to assume responsibility, drug testing and drug counseling. It’s a tough row to hoe for them, but it is a good test to determine whether or not that’s what they want,” Adams said.

But a decision on a sentence ultimately is up to Judge Judith A. Stewart or Magistrate Frank M. Nardi.

Steward said sentences are determined on a case-by-case basis.

Not having a criminal history can be considered a mitigating factor, or information or evidence presented to the court might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence, she said.

“Certainly, a prior criminal history is a factor that the court can always take into consideration, and it can be an aggravating factor; but it just depends on the circumstances in terms of how much criminal history, how long ago, how severe,” Stewart said.

For repeat offenders, the possibility of prison time increases.

“If we got multiple allegations or a second allegation, I am going to be less likely to give that individual opportunities to try to better themselves without at least a DOC (Department of Correction) stint,” Adams said.

Southerland is more skeptical about giving addicts a reduced sentence.

“It’s reasonable to think that somebody makes a mistake once, you give them a chance,” he said. “But if they’re addicted to this drug, I don’t see that working.”

Coming down

Officers are working to enforce drug laws and get users into jail where treatment is available and they can detox.

“Unfortunately, the best chance they’re going have, in my opinion, is if they are in jail and they’re in jail for three to six months,” Southerland said.

Foley agreed. She said she’s seen that, after three months, inmates who were arrested on drug charges, such as heroin, begin to think rationally again.

“They can concentrate. They’re able to formulate a plan for what they want to do,” she said.

From listening to phone calls from inmates in jail on drug charges, Southerland also has noticed a trend.

“Someone that is really strung out on meth and heroin … for the first month, these people will be real agitated, a lot of anger. You would be appalled to hear how they talk to their mother. They will cuss their mom. It’s horrible,” he said.

“The second month, when they call Mom on the phone, they’re remorseful, they’re crying all the time. They’re sad. …

“The third month, they start sounding like normal people again. They start carrying on two-way conversations. … Usually by the end of the third month, they’re starting to talk like they did before they become addicted to the drug.”

Inmates must remain in jail to have a chance at being clean, though, he said.

“I’m famous for saying, ‘Don’t bond out,’” Foley said. “After two or three weeks, somebody is really craving their drug, and they want out so they can use some more.”

The advice is the same for parents, Southerland said.

“They want to take care of their kids. I get that; believe me, I get that. It’s hard for them to believe that the best thing for their kid is to actually leave them in jail. It’s horrible; who would actually want to leave their kid in jail? Nobody. But in reality, it’s my belief that that’s their best chance at getting it out of their system to a point where they have at least a chance of making a rational decision and turn their life around,” Southerland said.

“No matter how much they promise and beg and plead that, ‘I’m never going to do this again; I’m going to go into rehab,’ I can almost guarantee … it’s not going to happen in the first few weeks.”

If family members have concerns that someone in their family is using, they should call the police, Adams said.

“An act of love can be calling law enforcement and stating, ‘I think my kid has an issue,’” he said.

Heroin basics

History: Heroin was first manufactured in Germany in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company. It was marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis and a remedy for morphine addiction.

How it’s made: Heroin is made from poppy plant resin. The milky, sap-like opium is first removed from the pod of the poppy flower. The opium is refined to make morphine and is further refined into different forms of heroin. “Cheese heroin” is also highly addictive. Cheese heroin is a blend of black tar Mexican heroin and over-the-counter cold medicine, such as Tylenol PM.

What it looks like: In its purest form, heroin is a fine white powder. More often, heroin is found to be rose gray, brown or black depending on which substances are used to “cut,” or dilute, the drug.

How it is used: Heroin can be injected, smoked or sniffed.

What it feels like: The first time it is used, heroin creates a sensation of being high or a “rush.” A person can feel extroverted, able to communicate easily and may experience a sensation of heightened sexual performance, but not for long. The high is often accompanied by a warm feeling of the skin and dry mouth. Initial reaction to the drug also can include vomiting and severe itching. After the initial effects fade, the user becomes drowsy for several hours. Basic body functions such as breathing and heartbeat slow down. Within hours after the drug’s effects decrease, the body will begin withdrawal.

What it does to the body: Heroin is highly addictive and withdrawal is extremely painful including vomiting, nausea, anger and extreme discomfort. The drug quickly breaks down the immune system and eventually can lead to a person becoming sickly thin and possibly dying.

Source: Foundation For a Drug-Free World