A Decade of Lost Opportunities to Stop a Heroin Epidemic

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New England’s heroin epidemic may currently be in the national spotlight, but it has been around for more than a decade. Sean Corcoran covered the crisis in Massachusetts when he was working as a reporter for The Salem News, up on Boston’s North Shore. He says his newspaper was the first in the region to report on what was then a new and disturbing trend.

As the the New Hampshire primary is right around the corner, voters are again stressing the issue to politicians, asking how they will deal with an issue that has been left to grow for the last decade. Earlier this week, during an event at Southern New Hampshire University, some GOP candidates opened up about their own families’ struggles with addiction. "As Lori grew progressively sicker," said Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina of her stepdaughter Lori's struggle with addiction, "the sparkle, the potential, the possibilities that had once filled her life - disappeared from behind her eyes." 

Corcoran, now news director at WCAI and managing editor for our partner, WGBH Radio, reflects on the lost opportunities to help desperate addicts, and explains why it has been so difficult to introduce much needed treatment-on-demand programs. Below are photos of some of his experiences then and now.