Sunday, April 19, 2015

Serving All Your Heroin Needs

By SAM QUINONES, NYT, APRIL 17, 2015

FATAL heroin overdoses in America have almost tripled in three years. More than 8,250 people a year now die from heroin. At the same time, roughly double that number are dying from prescription opioid painkillers, which are molecularly similar. Heroin has become the fallback dope when an addict can’t afford, or find, pills. Total overdose deaths, most often from pills and heroin, now surpass traffic fatalities.

If these deaths are the measure, we are arguably in the middle of our worst drug plague ever, apart from cigarettes and alcohol.

And yet this is also our quietest drug plague. Strikingly little public violence accompanies it. This has muted public outrage. Meanwhile, the victims — mostly white, well-off and often young — are mourned in silence, because their parents are loath to talk publicly about how a cheerleader daughter hooked for dope, or their once-star athlete son overdosed in a fast-food restaurant bathroom.

The problem “is worse than it’s ever been, and young people are dying,” an addiction doctor in Columbus, Ohio — one of our many new heroin hot spots — wrote me last month. “This past Friday I saw 23 patients, all heroin addicts recently diagnosed.”

(More here.)

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