Heroin is Easier to Get Than Wine, Cheaper Than Beer in Pennsylvania

Illustration for article titled Heroin is Easier to Get Than Wine, Cheaper Than Beer in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania state report released this past week claims that heroin is now easier to obtain in the state than wine, and cheaper than beer, especially in rural PA.


The report, which comes from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a joint legislative state agency, claims you can get small packets of heroin for between $5 and $10 across PA, which I did not know was a thing. The crazy thing? We're not talking about specifically urban areas here; Cambria County, to use one example, has a drug overdose rate of 22.6 deaths per 100,000 people — equal to Philadelphia's rate.

On the one hand, that seems insane — how can heroin be that easily attainable? On the other hand, have you ever been to rural Pennsylvania? It's...not pleasant. Here's a partial list of billboards we've driven past while heading from pseudo-civilization (Pittsburgh) to actual civilization (a real city where they don't put french fries on everything):

  • A picture of a clown with the caption "HE still believes in global warming"
  • A picture of a mountain with the caption "The sun sets, wind dies, coal is forever"
  • A picture of Lady Gaga with a steak on her head and the caption "Would you take energy advice from a woman wearing a meat dress?" There are similar billboards involving Yoko Ono and Robert Redford.
  • This.
  • Way more aborted fetus billboards than I care to name, remember, or differentiate.

Given the fact that we're talking about a place where that sort of thing is par for the course, coupled with the high poverty rate across the state, it's not surprising that people turn to drugs as an escape — I can't say I blame anyone who does.

This is a bigger problem than just "rural PA sucks" (even though it does). Obviously, something needs to be done considering that, as it stands, the resources for treating drug addiction in the state are limited enough that they could only treat one out of every eight addicts. It's probably a good sign that the report is a joint effort between both parties and that both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge there's a problem. Some of the report's recommendations (a "Good Samaritan Law" that would allow those who seek help for overdose victims to not face criminal charges) are better than others (making it easier to prosecute drug dealers whose customers die of overdoses, which is ultimately an idea that gets a lawmaker's righteous justice boner going but doesn't really help fix the problem), but at least someone's proposing something.

Here's another idea: maybe actually provide the resources necessary to provide effective treatment for those with addiction issues? The fact that could work means PA almost certainly won't do it, though. If there's one thing I've learned from living here, it's that average citizens would rather hamstring the government and then blame it for not doing its job. They might as well rename PA the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy State.

Image via Evdokimov Maxim/Shutterstock.



I'm a heroin addict living in Central Pennsylvania. Of course it's sold in ten dollar bags, most of the people in this particular subculture can't exactly produce the cash to buy bulk amounts, unless you plan on bagging it up and selling some of it anyways. Five dollar bags are garbage, stamped to shit usually. Ten dollar bags are much better. Ten bags to a bundle, 50 bundles to a brick. You can usually get 12 bag bundles, so it comes out to a little less than ten a bag. Technically a bundle should be a gram but it always varies depending on the stamp you're picking up at the time. It's an interesting and colorful world, the glassine bags can be pretty much any color and there's almost always a stamp on them, and if there isn't a stamp the little plastic bag that the glassine bag is doublebagged in usually has a design on it. Brand names, in a sense, so you know if what you're getting is good or not. The stamps change every so many weeks or months. It really isn't cheaper than beer, though, at least not if you're actually strung out. I have to bang at least two bags in a shot to get where I want to get, so that's twenty dollars to get a rush and then not feel like death. A sixpack of pounder cans of domestic beers is usually like six to eight dollars, and a case at the beer distributor can be as cheap as 15 dollars for a 30pack of Natty so alcohol is still the cheapest substance you can alter your mind with around here. Or you can go to the state store and get a half gallon of rotgut vodka/whiskey/gin/whatever for a tenspot. Everyone I know started out on painkillers, oxycodone pills mostly, the 30 and 15mg ones. The price rose steeply with demand, so a 30mg oxycodone is 20 to 30 dollars at this point. I need to eat or snort 4 of them at a time to get where two bags of dope is, so you can see why everyone is switching over to heroin. Sorry for the wall of text, just thought I'd provide a little insight into the way things are for everyone that's not personally involved or well informed on the situation.