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Tag Archives: oxy-to-heroin
Like many other areas of the nation affected by painkiller abuse, Lexington, Kentucky has been gripped by a wave of heroin-related deaths in recent months. According to this article, the trend has prompted law enforcement officials to consider carrying naloxone, a medication that reverses opiate overdoses. The Lexington Police Department is reviewing a training regimen and protocol that would enable it to place the kits in patrol cars, and is researching whether or not it would be legal for police to administer the drug to a third party, the article says.
Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, literally reverses the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system.
Many states have passed so-called “Good Samaritan” laws that offer protection to anyone seeking medical help in the event of a drug or alcohol overdose. Some of these laws extend both to people seeking assistance for themselves and for others.
The widespread painkiller addiction epidemic has fueled the rise of heroin use nationwide, particularly among suburban youth. Between 2007 and 2011, the number of users went from 373,000 to 620,000, according to federal data, and heroin-dependent young adults more than doubled to 109,000 between 2009 and 2011.
Suburban 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.
Heroin use and overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, and emerging information suggests this is the result of prescription painkiller addicts transitioning to the hardcore street drug. According to statistics recently released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, most people reporting heroin use initially started on pills.
According to the NCBI:
Between 2002-2004 and 2008-2010, past year heroin use increased among people reporting past year nonmedical use (PYNMU) of opioid pain relievers, but not among those reporting no PYNMU. Frequent nonmedical users – people reporting 100-365 days of PYNMU – had the highest rate of past year heroin use and were at increased risk for ever injecting heroin and past year heroin abuse or dependence as compared to infrequent nonmedical users (1-29 days of PYNMU).
In 2008-2010, 82.6% of frequent nonmedical users who used heroin in the past year reported nonmedical use of opioid pain relievers prior to heroin initiation compared to 64.1% in 2002-2004.
As more painkiller addicts are turning to heroin due to the crackdown on prescription drugs, a growing number of law enforcement agencies are turning to rarely used drug laws to prosecute drug dealers for their role in causing overdose deaths, according to this article in the Associated Press.
Prosecutors in New Jersey, for example, are using the state’s “strict liability for drug death” statute, a first-degree crime that holds dealers and producers responsible for a user’s death and has a 20-year maximum sentence, the article says. They are also changing the way they investigate overdoses, which were once looked upon as accidents, immediately sending detectives to the scene of an overdose, and instructing paramedics to treat overdoses like crimes. In addition, coroners are being asked to order autopsies and preserve forensic evidence because proving that a death was caused solely by heroin can be difficult when other substances are present in a person’s system, the article says.
The number of people nationwide who have used heroin in the past year rose by 66% between 2007 and 2011, while the number of people who died of overdoses and had heroin present in their system jumped 55% from 2000 to 2010, the article notes, citing federal data.
According to this article, which cites statistics released by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Health Statistics Center, between 2007 and 2012, the state’s health statistics center in Charleston reported that a total of 240 deaths were caused by heroin overdoses through the state, increasing from a total of 22 in 2007 to 66 in 2012.
Berkeley County has seen a total of 48 deaths, Jefferson County saw a total of 14 deaths and Morgan County was listed as having seven heroin overdose deaths in that same time period, the article says.
In Berkeley County, the statistics center attributed just one death to a fatal heroin overdose in 2007, but by last year, the number had increased to 13, the article says. Jefferson County saw its highest number of heroin overdose deaths in 2008 and 2010, when four deaths were directly attributed to heroin, but the number dropped to just one in 2012, while Morgan County saw just one heroin overdose death recorded in 2011, which increased to three last year, according to the article.
Recent 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.
Fatal overdoses from heroin rose by 54% in Maryland from 2011 to 2012, due in part to the state’s painkiller addiction epidemic, according to a report released by the state health department on Wednesday. This increase led to a 15% rise in the total number of fatal drug- and alcohol-related overdoses in the state, from 663 in 2011 to 761 in 2012.
According to the report, 2012 marked a reversal in recent alcohol and drug overdose trends: heroin-related deaths, which declined 36% between 2007 and 2011, increased among all demographic groups and in all regions in the state from 2011 to 2012.
In contrast, deaths related to prescription opioids like oxycodone and methadone, which increased 18% between 2007 and 2011, decreased 12% between 2011 and 2012, according to the report.
Although opiate overdoses are skyrocketing in the U.S., many people still don’t know about naloxone, which literally reverses the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system.
This powerful new short film, “Reach for Me: Fighting to End the American Drug Overdose Epidemic,” is produced by Sawbuck Productions in Association with with CinemaNOPE Pictures and examines the need for expanded access to naloxone. It makes a great argument for how Narcan can help save lives, and explains why more overdose awareness prevention is needed.
I am always amazed at how many people are unaware of Narcan and how it’s used, but I myself didn’t know about naloxone until well after my brother’s heroin overdose death in 2009. It took less than 10 minutes for me to get trained in Narcan use by the wonderful folks at the DOPE Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to reduce fatal overdose deaths by providing overdose prevention education and naloxone to drug users and their loved ones — and if you live in the Bay Area, I highly suggest contacting them to get trained.
Heroin use and related deaths have increased significantly across Washington state over the past decade — and the trend is especially prevalent among people under age 30, who are finding it cheaper and easier to get heroin than prescription opiates these days, according to this article.
The article cites a new study by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, which found that drug treatment admissions for heroin increased statewide from 2,647 in 2002 to 7,500 in 2012. The majority of 18- to-29-year-olds seeking drug treatment for the first time in 2012 were being treated for heroin use, the study also found.
In addition, the number of accidental deaths statewide involving heroin and prescribed opiates doubled from an average of 310 a year between 2000 and 2002 and 607 a year from 2009 to 2011, according to the study.
The article notes that the data from Washington mirrors a national trend, even though the most up-to-date national research is a few years behind Washington:
A National Institutes of Health study cites numbers from 2009 that show a national rise in opiate addiction and overdoses. The authors of that study, which was published in February 2013 in the Public Library of Science journal, predicted heroin use would likely increase as a result.
Due to the painkiller addiction epidemic, the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota is experiencing a dramatic increase in heroin overdose deaths and emergency room admissions for overdoses. According to this article, there were 37 heroin-related deaths in Hennepin County last year – a more than 900% increase over the four deaths reported in 2008.
2012 is the second year in a row for a dramatic increase in heroin overdose deaths in the Twin Cities; in 2011, the number of overdose deaths more than doubled from the previous year, the article says.
Minneapolis has the highest purity level of Mexican heroin of any U.S. city, and sells the drug for the lowest prices, the article adds, citing a 2009 report by the Department of Human Services.
As we are seeing elsewhere in the nation, the painkiller addiction trend has resulted in a shocking uptick in heroin deaths.