The recent death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman is bringing attention to heroin use around the country. Tragically, heroin use is on the rise here in Southern Arizona.
The reason for the increase is unclear. But authorities think the high cost of street prescription drugs like Oxycontin and Percocet versus cheap heroin is adding to the problem.
Pima County has an experimental program where someone convicted of heroin use can go to treatment instead of jail. For many of those in the program - they've successfully kicked the habit and are working jobs. And the cost of treatment is half the cost of prison.
But the program run by the Pima County Attorney's Office is under funded. A federal grant has run out. The City of Tucson and the county have added some money but it is far too little.
This initiative has now gone to the Arizona Legislature for funding. Let's hope lawmakers take a hard look at this program - not just in Tucson but in the rest of the state.
Let's take a look at spending some money now to save taxpayers a lot of money in the future.