John F. Doble, a Bourne police detective, has seen the change with his own eyes.
Young men and women, vibrant in high school, have become emaciated four or five years later. Their eyes are sunken. Their skin has turned a pasty white. They are depressed.
The signs are all there. They are heroin addicts.
Bourne police say that heroin use and overdoses are surging in the town, just like in other communities on Cape Cod and in Massachusetts.
In 2013, Bourne police recorded 34 overdoses in town, 14 of them involving heroin.
So far this year, through Monday, the police have recorded 46 overdoses in town, including 26 heroin overdoses. At least one of the heroin overdoses is a confirmed fatality.
Residents looking for signs of the surge sometimes need look no farther than the ground or asphalt under their feet.
Bourne Police Lieutenant Richard J. Silvestro said Wednesday that the police department is getting calls every day about discarded hypodermic needles.
“People are finding them on beaches, store parking lots, public parks,” Lt. Silvestro said. “It’s becoming a real, real mess.”
Bourne Police Detective David J. Wilson said that the needles, which can carry infectious diseases such as AIDS, pose a hazard to the public.
The prevalence of discarded needles in public places reflects the haste of addicts to get the heroin into their veins, according to Det. Doble.
As the effects of their prior fix wears off, their bones ache and they come down with flu-like symptoms. They have become “dope sick,” and need to get more opiates into their system to counteract their withdrawal.
So many addicts, buying the heroin in little corner-cut clear bags inside vehicles in parking lots, are not contemplating going home for dinner and a little television before getting their fix. They shoot up then and there.
Fifteen years ago, Det. Doble said, crack cocaine washed over the community. But starting about six years ago, police began seeing an increase in opiate use.
Painkillers such as OxyContin, typically taken as pills, became popular. Then, when the supply decreased because of increased enforcement on pill producers in Florida, opiate users began turning to heroin.
In addition to ravaging addicts’ bodies, Bourne detectives say, heroin also can bring guns and violence into the community.
On April 14, police say, a 22-year-old Bourne man named Antone Gutierrez was shot and stabbed during a heroin transaction outside the All Seasons Inn on Trowbridge Road. Police say the suspects in the crime subsequently invaded the room at the inn where Mr. Gutierrez had been staying, and beat up a woman there.
Mr. Gutierrez died early the next morning at Boston Medical Center. Two men—ages 25 and 20 at the time—have been charged with his murder.
Det. Doble said heroin sellers often are relieved when their door is knocked on or smashed in by police. At least they know they will not be hurt, he said.
The detectives said the increase in heroin use has become a significant problem in the town. Bourne Police Detective Kenneth S. Gelson estimates that 95 percent of the crimes now under investigation by department detectives are related to heroin use.
However, when people come to start shooting heroin, detectives say, they come to rue their decision.
“They don’t want to be heroin addicts,” Det. Gelson said. “Nobody wants to wake up and be a junkie.”
The Bourne residents who have become addicted to heroin have two basic destinations ahead of them, Det. Doble said.
They can go through rehabilitation and stay off the drug, he said. Or they can face an early death.