Police on the Front Lines of Cape Cod's Heroin Epidemic

Police in some Cape Cod towns see an overdose every other day, and sometimes every day

Cape Cod may be an idyllic spot for a vacation for many, but local police say there's a dark side as the heroin epidemic ravages communities.

In Yarmouth alone, police say they see an overdose every other day and sometimes every day.

In disturbing eyewitness video, in broad daylight, front and center on the side of the road on Cape Cod, police worked on an unconscious young man overdosing from what police believe was heroin.

In a ride-a-long with Yarmouth detectives, it became clear that heroin usage is very much alive. Just minutes into the ride, we met several known heroin addicts hanging outside a housing development with no heroin, but everything they need to inject it.

"One of the gentleman that we saw our there admitted he just shot up for a few hours before and he was definitely high," the undercover detective said.

No arrests were made, but just moments after, the same two detectives saved the life of an overdosing victim on a bathroom floor. They administered a drug called Narcan, which counters the effects of heroin.

Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief steven Xiarhos says New England is seeing more heroin use compared to the rest of the country. A number of factors are contributing to the heavy heroin usage, including the use of painkillers, according to Xiarhos.

Every single crime in Yarmouth, he says, has a connection to heroin, and that's trickling down to the public.

"The addicts will eventually break into someone's home or car to steal drugs or to steal money because their addiction rate is so high that they will commit other crimes," Xiarhos said.

Necn also spoke with Becca Reilly, originally of Barnstable, now a vibrant young 21 year old with a full time job and her own apartment; however, two years ago, Becca weighed less than 100 pounds and was addicted to heroin.

"It's starts off with drinking on the weekend, smoking pot with your friends on Friday night and then for me I didn't know how to stop," she said.

Her father wants to drive home that heroin can affect everyone.

"We lived in a suburban house, two great kids, I've been married for 32 years, life was good and we didn't see a lot of this stuff," Jack Reilly said.

Now Cape police departments are committing extra resources and manpower to stop illegal heroin sales. Barnstable is one department doing just that, and Deputy Chief Xiarhos says they have special officers dedicated to the same mission. They're also trying some innovative approaches, such as bringing an addict to rehab if they're looking for help, and they follow up on every single overdose patient.

"We'll actually go to addicts homes and talk to their parents, and sometimes the parents just need help," Xiarhos said.

Every Tuesday night at the department, Yarmouth police host Narcan training and distribution in a special "Learn to Cope" support meeting for families of addicts.

At Gosnold Drug Rehab in Falmouth, president and CEO Ray Tamasi says they're now seeing heroin use without regard to class, race or age, and that more than half of their patients are opiate addicts.

"There's this idea that people are doing this to themselves. I can tell you there's no one I've ever met that wants to get up and crawl out of bed in the morning and start crawling around looking for a needle to shoot up so they can then stand up to go into the next room, that's nothing anyone wants, but that's what addiction brings people to," he said.

Tamasi says they treat heroin addiction as a chronic condition that needs lifelong management.

One story that he thinks is often underreported is the great hope and promise for recovery.

"Theres a way out of this we see it everyday," Tamasi said. 

Contact Us