When most people think of the heroin problem the country and York County are facing, they usually conjure up an image of a stereotypical junkie with a gaunt face.

But with the drug's increasing popularity in recent years, heroin users are coming in all shapes and sizes, said one York County official.

"It's not your typical druggie from the 60s. It's people from all walks of life," said Pam Gay, the York County coroner. "It could be your next-door neighbor, your niece, your child."

On Saturday, Gay, along with Chief Deputy Coroner Claude Stabley and chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday of the district attorney's office will be keynote speakers at an informative program at Cross Roads United Methodist Church in Cross Roads.

The program: Officials will present information about heroin use in the county and what's being done to scale back its usage, said Charles Hess, who organized the program.

Attendees will also be able to ask the three officials questions during the question-and-answer portion of the program, he said.

Hess said he decided to organize the program because of increased heroin use.

"It's getting bad," he said. "You see it everywhere" in the news.

Heroin deaths: York County has seen a major increase in the number of deaths blamed on heroin use this year.

There have been 26 confirmed heroin-related deaths in York County so far this year, Gay said, adding that some fentanyl-related deaths are included in that figure.


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Fentanyl, which is sometimes mixed with heroin or used to replace it, is a synthetic prescription opioid typically used to treat pain.

There are also four suspected heroin-related deaths the coroner's office is investigating.

That's well above the 17 confirmed heroin-related deaths in York County last year. There were also 17 heroin-related deaths in 2012, Gay said.

In response to the drastic increase in heroin-related deaths, county officials, including the coroner's office and law enforcement agencies, have stepped up efforts to educate the public on the dangers of using the drug and have formed the heroin task force. Police are also cracking down on drug dealers.

Getting the word out is just part of the battle.

"I think it's getting better," Gay said. "I think people were hesitant to talk about it."

If you go:

The informational program on the heroin problem in York County will be held at Cross Roads United Methodist Church, 6881 Church Road, on Saturday.

Doors open at 5:15 p.m., with the program starting at 6:30 p.m.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.