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More Oklahomans are falling into the deadly grip of heroin

Heroin continues to be smuggled into Oklahoma. Deaths from heroin overdoses nearly doubled in Oklahoma in 2012.
by Robert Medley Published: May 6, 2013

Oklahoma City drummer Michael Newberry played in bands and held a day job. He was married and had young children. Then he crossed paths with an addictive narcotic.

He describes the two years he was addicted to heroin as the worst years of his life.

Newberry first struggled with addiction to pain medicine. Then, when he couldn't buy prescription pills illegally on the streets, he found heroin was available in Oklahoma City.

“I was vulnerable. I went for it and it took me over. It consumed my life.”

Newberry, 56, shoplifted to support his habit in the mid-1990s, and he was caught. He spent 30 days in jail. The jail stay and the use of methadone at a clinic helped him kick the heroin habit.

He's been clean 16 years, but there was a point he didn't think that was possible.

“On heroin I thought I was hopeless.”

Heroin deaths are

on the rise in state

The deadly narcotic still lurks on the Oklahoma City streets today.

For decades heroin was smuggled into the United States from Southeast Asia, law officers said. Now it makes its way to Oklahoma from Mexican cartels, said Mark Woodward, spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control.

Heroin deaths are up in Oklahoma. The state medical examiner reported 20 deaths from heroin overdose in 2012, nearly double from 2011 when there were 11 deaths. Four deaths were reported in 2010.

Data is not yet available for 2013, spokeswoman Amy Elliott said.

Woodward said heroin is mass-produced in Southeast Asia, from poppy fields in Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. Smugglers once brought heroin to America on airplanes and ships, but tighter security has pushed the destination to Mexico, where heroin is then distributed north by Mexican drug cartels.

“We've really cracked down on ships and their cargo and on airplanes, especially since 9/11,” Woodward said.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Robert Medley
Breaking News Reporter
Robert Medley has been a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1989, covering various news beats in the Oklahoma City metro area and in the Norman news bureau. He has been part of the breaking news team since 2008. A 1987 University of Oklahoma...
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