Authorities seizing more heroin

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- Authorities are seeing more heroin in Yakima County. The rising cost of pain pills has people turning from that addiction, to heroin.

The problem with heroin is well known to Gerry Dombrowski.

"I dabbled with heroin in my early thirties and spent the majority of my thirties doing heroin," Dombrowski said.

It tore his life apart. He recalls the effects of his addiction.

"In and out of prison, family destroyed, wandering around looking for where I was going."

It took more than 30 years for Dombrowski to get clean. Now he helps other addicts as a counselor at Triumph Treatment Services.

"There's a personal and spiritual satisfaction in knowing that I'm doing something more productive with my life now then I did for so many years where all I was doing was taking," he said.

Heroin has become a national conversation after the deaths of a number of celebrities, but it's affecting the Yakima community as well.

"This needs to be a higher priority than what it is and what it's been," said Sheriff Ken Irwin of the Yakima County Sheriff's Office.

So far this year, authorities have already taken nearly three times the amount of heroin off the streets that they confiscated in all of 2012. Meth is also still very popular in Yakima County. Police say it drives much of the property crime as addicts try to get money for the drug.

Law enforcement says they don't have all the money they need to attack the problem. The Yakima County Sheriff said in order to tackle the drug problem, he would like to see four or five officers working with the DEA and the same amount working with the lead task force. Right now, there are no officers with the DEA and just one working with the lead task force.

Debrowski believes until the stigma is removed, most people won't get the help they need.

"Drug addicts are sick people who need to get well," Debrowski said. "They are not bad people who need to get good."