The Department of Justice introduced a new plan today that will be used to combat the sudden rise in heroin overdose deaths.
In the memorandum, Attorney General Eric Holder encourages Federal law enforcement agencies to take steps which would help curb the rise of heroine overdose related deaths. These steps include, properly equipping and training personnel who may encounter a heroin overdose incident.
The equipped agents that come in contact with these victims, will be allowed to carry the life-saving drug, naloxone. According to Holder, the drug has been attributed to saving over 10,000 people’s lives since 2001.
The rise of heroin overdoses has been deemed a crisis in the United States. According to the Justice Department’s figures, everyday in the U.S., 110 people die from drug overdose. To make a relative comparison, that is more than gunshot wounds or car crashes (Department of Justice). Of these 110 overdose related deaths, more than half can be linked to heroin or prescription pain-killers. That staggering number has been on the rise in recent years. “Between 2006 and 2010, heroin overdose deaths dramatically increased by 45 percent” (Department of Justice).
The spike in heroin related deaths is something that Attorney General Eric Holder looks to begin remedying. Attorney General Holder went on record as saying, “the shocking increase in overdose deaths illustrates that addiction to heroin and other opioids, including some prescription painkillers, represents nothing less than a public health crisis,” Holder also stated. “I am confident that expanding the availability of naloxone has the potential to save the lives, families and futures of countless people across the nation.”
At the day-long conference Holder, expressed optimism in the new plan while acknowledging the challenges that exist. The Attorney General claims, “we cannot prevent every individual instance of heroin or prescription painkiller abuse. And that is why, beyond these efforts, we must also take additional steps to ensure that we can respond quickly and effectively in the event of acute heroin- or prescription drug-related emergencies that are encountered in the field” (Department of Justice).