Heroin Epidemic

by Ashepherd on November 4, 2016 - 1:36am

The number of heroin overdoses have been rising quickly over the last few months. In Erie County, NY there were almost 600 opiate overdose deaths by April of 2016 this includes heroin and prescription opiates such as morphine, oxycodone, and methadone. There was 39% increase in heroin related deaths in 2012-2013. This number has continued to rise; Opiate overdoses have doubled in the last year all over the country. Officials are saying that the country is facing a heroin epidemic.

Many of the heroin overdoses have gone viral on social media sites like Facebook, because of the fact that, people have been overdosing in front of their children. Recently in Indiana there was a woman found dead in her car holding a syringe with her child in the backseat. There was another photo that circulated the internet of two parents overdosed in their car with their four-year-old in the backseat.  The picture was released by an Ohio police department in hopes of raising awareness of the dangers of heroin.

            There have been many incidents in which people were using heroin while driving. In Fishkill, NY a man crashed his car while under the influence of heroin. This is one of many accidents caused by heroin use. In several different states, there have been accident in which people were found with needles still in their arms. Currently in Fort Thomas, Ohio people using heroin and driving are causing more accidents than drunk drivers. Ohio has become the center of the opiate epidemic.

            Because of the increase of heroin and prescription opiate related deaths states have been offering narcan training to many people. You do not need to be a medical professional in order to give someone narcan; the American Medical Association has promoted people getting trained to administer narcan. Narcan is an antidote to opioids, it stops the effects of opioids and reverses the overdose. Narcan can be injected like an EpiPen would be or used as a nasal spray. The antidote cannot be used to get high and it has no negative effects on someone who is not under the influence of an opiate.

http://ktla.com/2016/09/14/child-in-viral-overdose-pictures-to-get-new-home/

http://buffalonews.com/2016/04/05/on-track-for-570-opiate-deaths-in-2016-erie-county-steps-up-response/

Comments

Great post!
This is a very important issue that is not often addressed in the media because of the shame drug addicts get from the general public. Most of the public do not understand that addiction is a disease that should be treated the same as a patient getting over their cancer. Yes, there are a bunch of alcohol anonymous groups and a lot of social support groups for recovering addicts but it takes a lot for someone to emit themselves in a rehab facility when they are already running low on income. In Guelph, I believe we have about two residential rehab facilities and two outpatient drug and alcohol rehab centres to attempt to control the inevitable problem. Unfortunately, offering rehab centres is the only means of treating addiction on the streets of cities as a person addicted to a drug will only get better once they decide they should.
It was very sad to hear about all those overdose deaths with their children in the back seat. I feel as though there should be more sanctions in society that provide the support systems addicts need to want to get better.

First of all, I enjoyed this post, I felt that the points you made were clear and the the way you presented the topic was an eye-opener. I knew that the government had a growing concern of the effects of heroin, but not until this post did I know how far this problem has come. This is definitely a very important case that the general public should be more aware of, and can help alert people to watch out for their family, friends and acquaintances. The product Narcan was introduced and can definitely help slow down the rate of deaths along with awareness, I hope that this drug, Narcan is easily accessible to the general public and that people are familiar with it. It is also great to here that this drug does have any effects on a sober person.

I really enjoyed the facts that you presented in this article. Opiate addiction is one of the fastest growing in this country, due mainly to the accessibility of prescription painkillers and the glamorization of products like fetanyl by musicians in the form of syrup. Many people begin using these products casually and unknowingly become very addicted in a short amount of time. I liked especially that you touched on the media coverage of overdoses. I feel that it's very important for this to become an issue at the forefront, as many younger people who attend parties are particularly susceptible to addiction to these substances.

Hi Ashepherd,

This is a great post – you were very effective at describing the current epidemic surrounding heroin use. I also like that you mentioned a lot of specific examples of overdoses since I think that it makes it more personal and will strike emotion in the reader. Overall, this is very effective at conveying the scary reality of this situation. I also think the Narcan program by the American Medical Association is a great program and hopefully it will prevent many deaths.

However, I am concerned that the government may not be taking enough proactive approaching to prevent heroin use in the first place. Although, you did mention that the Ohio police department is trying to raise awareness, I think that more preventative action needs to take place. I think that the best way to prevent heroin usage, outside of the law, is to provide accessible education to the public particularly youth. This educational organizations need more media attention so that the public stays in tune with this issue. Upon further research, I came across a unique article which examines heroin addicts who are requesting to be place in jails in order as a desperate attempt to quit and receives rehab care. For more info you can check out this article: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/11/15/502029334/a-twist-on...

Regards,
Hanna

I really enjoyed your post and the writing style you used to really put emphasis on how heroin affects not only the user, but also the specific family or innocent people surrounding heroin users. I thought the statistic related to people driving while under the influence in Fort Thomas, Ohio was very interesting. The fact that there have been more heroin related accidents than drunk driving accidents is astonishing. I also liked how you brought up one of the possible treatments for people who are under the influence of heroin or prescription opiate. Do you think that narcan training or the narcan antidote is enough to cause the number of deaths related to heroin and opiate to decline across various states?
Great post!

Interesting and sad stories. The increased access of the drug Narcan might be able to subdue the problem of overdosing in the short term, but I think establishing how and why opiates are becoming increasing common in the United States is key to figuring out how to end the epidemic. One of the main reasons is the over prescription of pain killers by doctors, which is a symptom of a private healthcare system. Drug companies make more money the more drugs they sell, and push for private doctors to prescribe at a higher rate. The Obama administration has alluded to this problem and supports legislation to research appropriate proscription levels to avoid addiction to opiates. Do you think the Narcan is access is enough to address this issue? I think the US needs strict regulation of their prescription limits to prevent the causation of addiction, that in most cases leads to cheaper illegal drugs like heroin.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/05/obama-administrat...

Great commentary, with plenty of supporting examples and evidence. It is surprising to me how quickly this issue surfaced, and how serious it has gone in the short time period. The danger, as you have pointed out, is not only with the users themselves, but the threat that they become to others. Using before driving, in the presence of children, or both could hurt so many more people and escalates this issue.
Although the Narcan is effective, it is saddening to think that this issue has gotten to the point that something like this would be necessary.
You also mention that overdose statistics include things like morphine and oxycodone - things that are commonly found in medical institutions. I think it is important to highlight the fact that most of these addictions begin with some kind of prescription painkiller, that people easily become addicted to. This creates another level to the problem, as we cannot simply stop giving people medication because they truly are prescribed for those in great pain. Do you think this is an issue for the healthcare system to combat, monitoring those in their care? Or do you think this is a law enforcement issue to keep it off the streets?

This was a very interesting read. It was definitely different to consider the impacts on the families of addicts, and I think advocating Narcan is a great thing. For me though, it does seem like a "band-aid" style fix, and I understand that's all it's meant to be. I agree with some of the other comments that suggest that the AMA should be turning their attention towards stricter prescription regulation, quashing the issue at the root of the problem. There also should be more of an emphasis on treatment for people with ongoing addiction; I feel the private system in the US does not provide much in the way of help for people lacking the ability to pay for it.

Your post was very informative. I always underestimate impacts of narcotic use on individuals, perhaps because I have never experienced anyone who is using them. You highlight the severity of this problem with the fact about there being more opiate influenced driving accidents than alcohol in Fort Thomas, this is very disturbing. Here in Guelph I know that we also have some issues with opiates because in the summer I worked for the City of Guelph and would hear about bathrooms having to be closed because so many needles were found there, and we also received sharps training on how to properly dispose of needles if we found any. If I had not worked for the city I would not have been aware of this problem in Guelph. I have also never heard of Narcan before, it sounds useful but who would be administering it? For example in the Indiana case the mother was overdosing with her child in the back seat. I understand that it is useful and important, but in situations where someone is getting high by themselves or multiple people are overdosing at the same time the presence of the Narcan would not make a difference.
Thanks for an informative post.

Ashepherd,

Your post stood out to me and was very informative with respect to the current epidemic that is opiate abuse. The examples you used helped to show the scary reality of what drug abuse can do to someone. As you mentioned, opiates come in many forms, currently in my hometown of Niagara Falls (CA) fentanyl use has become a growing concern as it is easier to access.

An article that I've attached below illustrates the increasing use of alternative forms of opiates like fentanyl, as more common ones like oxycodone become more heavily regulated. In 2010, the Ontario provincial government replaced the oxycodone pill with a more tamper-resistant form. This caused a shockwave to addicts who were forced to shift to other forms of drugs in order to fulfill their need, and as a result fentanyl has emerged a cheaper alternative. Ironically, data shows that since 2010, fentanyl related deaths have nearly doubled from 86 in 2010, to 165 in 2015.

The concept of addiction needs to be viewed as an illness or disease rather than a negative disposition towards that individual person. Many addicts are people who have endured multiple setbacks in their lives and as a result are unable to cope with the burdens that every day life can have. The problem is that access to most of these drugs is a lot easier and cheaper than heroin or oxycodone. Limiting access to one specific type of drug is not the answer, addicts will undoubtedly find other ways to abuse. There should be more governmental control over the distribution of these drugs and access should not be as easy.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-fentanyl-1.3874250

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