The outbreak of heroin-related deaths in Fairfax, Virginia is killing the area's best and brightest young people. So says the front page of the Washington Post this morning, which highlights exactly how upscale and surprising teen deaths from heroin in the area were. Nineteen year old Alicia Lannes, at left, overdosed on the drug the first time she used it, and died the fourth time she did. Her death gives rise to a larger drug trend story: one minute these kids were hitting a bong, and the next they were snorting pure heroin and heading to the hospital. Is it really that simple?The story describes the 18 heroin-related deaths in the county over the last year, and how they have largely affected a class of young person who wouldn't be expected to sample the drug:
Alicia Lannes did not run with a party crowd, her father said, and had psychological problems unrelated to drugs. But when she started dating Schnippel last year, she fell in love and confided her problems to him, Lannes said. "Skylar got into heroin," Lannes said, "and introduced it to Alicia." She overdosed the first time she used the drug in August 2007, and Schnippel took her to the hospital, where she was revived. "When I heard that Alicia had used heroin, you might as well have told me that she'd become president of Pakistan." "Watching my friends go through all of this was eerily similar to watching one of those anti-drug videos in health class," said one Westfield graduate who was close to several of those in the drug ring and who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid trouble at college.
All is not well in Fairfax. The authors clearly had trouble getting young people to talk, only quoting one youth on the record for their story. According to anonymous sources like the one above, "many of those charged began using and selling marijuana while skateboarding in middle school, then escalated to ecstasy, prescription painkillers, psychedelic mushrooms and heroin." It's terrible that people are using heroin, an insanely powerful drug. But is it necessary as a reporter to explain how heroin took root in Fairfax without any evidence except the anonymous testimony of kids? Buried at the end of the article is the only real evidence: law enforcement reports that the amount of heroin in the area has remained relatively constant. Hey, anything for a drug trend story. Fairfax Drug Ring Not Deterred By Friend's Death [WaPo]