Tag Archives: New York

Heroin is ‘archenemy No. 1’ in Chicago suburbs: coroner

heroinSuburban teens have been scoring heroin on Chicago’s West Side since the 1990s, but heroin-related deaths have dramatically increased in recent years, according to this article in the Chicago Tribune, which cites statistics provided by county coroners. According to the article, experts attribute the spike to a combination of factors, including its cheap price, its availability, and the fact that syringes are no longer needed to inject the drug due to its purity, eliminating fear of needles as a deterrent.

Some of the article’s disturbing statistics:

In 2012, Lake County’s death toll reached a five-year high of 33, while heroin killed 27 people in Kane County, up from two in 2006, records show.

DuPage County’s numbers nearly doubled from 23 in 2007, the furthest its records go back, to 43 in 2012.

Heroin killed 53 Will County residents last year, more than traffic accidents and homicides combined, leading one coroner to call the drug “archenemy No. 1.”

McHenry County had 16 heroin deaths in 2012, the highest total since 2008. Cook County could not provide statistics that isolate heroin from other opiates, but the medical examiner said it remains a steady problem with an estimated one to two heroin deaths a day.

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Cheap, high-grade heroin floods New England

needle ODRecent restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers has led to a rise in the amount of low-cost heroin in New England states that is increasingly purer and thus more potent and dangerous. According to this article in the New York Times, though heroin was once seen as an urban drug, it has been making an alarming comeback in the smaller cities and towns of New England.

Heroin killed 21 people in Maine last year, three times as many as in 2011, while New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just 7 a decade ago, the article says. In Vermont, officials reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40%, according to the article.

A $6 bag of heroin in New York City nets $10 in southern New England and up to $30 or $40 in northern New England, the article adds, citing law enforcement officials.

According to the article:

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. About a quarter of everyone who tries it becomes dependent on it. Users can quickly develop a tolerance, prompting them to seek more and more until the pursuit takes over their lives and, often, leads to ruin.

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Staten Island Oxy supply dwindles, opening door to heroin

DRUG BANNEDAs the prescription drug epidemic in New York’s Staten Island gets more attention, addicts and criminals are discovering it increasingly difficult to get doctors here to write new prescriptions for oxycodone, or find pharmacies willing to fill those scripts for new patients, which is pushing people elsewhere to obtain the painkiller, according to this article. An analysis of state health department data showed that in 2012, borough residents received 141,481 prescriptions for the drug; Staten Island physicians were responsible for writing out 110,327 of those prescriptions, meaning at least 31,000 of Islander’s scripts, possibly more, come from off-Island doctors, the article says.

Similarly, pharmacies in the borough filled out 122,048 oxycodone prescriptions in 2012, indicating that residents went off-Island to fill at least 19,400 of their scripts, the article says.

By comparison, Manhattan residents received just 264,271 prescriptions for oxycodone last year, but doctors there wrote out nearly twice as many scripts there — 514,819 in total, according to the article.

And unfortunately, the dwindling supply of pills may start to push people towards other dangerous opiates, according to one treatment director quoted in the article:

Everybody who’s been using for the past 10 years, they aren’t going to stop. They’re going to heroin.

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N.Y. imposes stricter controls on hydrocodone

purplepillsIn New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a letter to doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals alerting them that the widely abused prescription painkiller hydrocodone is now a Schedule II controlled substance under new regulations recently passed by the state. In the letter, Schneiderman calls the drug “highly addictive,” noting that statewide prescriptions for hydrocodone filled increased from 3.8 million to 4.5 million from 2007 to 2009, an increase of 18.4%, while those for oxycodone have increased 82%. In many regions of the state, hydrocodone is the most commonly prescribed controlled substance, according to the letter.

The changes apply only to New York state, although the FDA is currently considering whether to reclassify hydrocodone-containing painkillers from Schedule III drugs to the more restrictive Schedule II on a federal level. In January, an expert panel voted 19 to 10 in favor of the more stringent prescribing requirements. During a two-day hearing last week, the panel heard testimony from proponents who noted hydrocodone’s abuse potential (such products are currently the most-abused prescription medicine behind oxycodone), while critics argued that the move would hinder legitimate pain patients from obtaining treatment.

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In N.Y., pill addiction epidemic shows no signs of slowing

New York has suffered brutally at the hands of the prescription drug addiction epidemic, and experts say things have only gotten worse since last year’s quadruple homicide at a Medford, N.Y. pharmacy. According to this article, there were 92 instances in Nassau in 2011 in which prescription opioids were linked to overdose deaths – a tally higher than either of the previous two years and more than triple the 2004 figure. Forty-five of those deaths happened after the Medford killings, the article says.

Meanwhile, Suffolk had 177 such cases in 2011, the most ever recorded by the county medical examiner’s office; 80 of those deaths occurred after the murders, the article says.

Prescriptions for oxycodone in New York rose by 82 percent from 2007 to 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general. Almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in the state in 2010, with an especially high quantity of prescriptions being written on Staten Island and in large areas of Suffolk County, the report says.

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Prescription drug bust in N.Y. nets 100 arrests

Nearly 100 individuals have been arrested in a law enforcement sweep targeting traffickers and health care practitioners accused of illegal prescription drug use in all five of New York’s counties. Prosecutors filed drug trafficking and other federal and state criminal charges against 98 defendants, including two doctors and a nurse practitioner, and have barred a Brooklyn pharmacist from dispensing prescription drugs.

New York has been cracking down on painkiller abuse. In May, the state passed a “Good Samaritan” law aimed at reducing overdose deaths by protecting people who call for medical help for overdose victims from being prosecuted for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking. The state is now the largest in the nation to adopt such a measure. Washington state, Connecticut and New Mexico have all passed similar laws, and California, Illinois and Nebraska are currently considering them.

Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in New York, where almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in in 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general.

Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims.

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N.Y. adopts “Good Samaritan” law to help save overdose victims

New York has passed a “Good Samaritan” law aimed at reducing overdose deaths by protecting people who call for medical help for overdose victims from being prosecuted for personal possession of drugs, paraphernalia or underage drinking. The state is now the largest in the nation to adopt such a measure. Washington state, Connecticut and New Mexico have all passed similar laws, and California, Illinois and Nebraska are currently considering them.

Overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in New York, where almost 22.5 million prescriptions for all types of narcotic painkillers were written in in 2010, according to a recent report issued by the state’s attorney general.

Even though opiate overdoses are on the rise, many people don’t call 911 out of fear of arrest and prosecution, and instead rely on ineffective methods of reviving victims.

Read more about the prescription addiction epidemic in New York here.

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