The New York City health department reported that the number of deaths related to heroin overdose has risen significantly over the last decade.
This particular drug issue came to light when actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an apparent heroin overdose.
“It was almost exclusively Central Brooklyn, South Bronx, East Harlem and overlapped with New York City’s highest-need neighborhoods. The rest of the city – Staten Island, Queens, most of Manhattan – close to nothing,” Kolodny shared.
In 2013, out of the 782 drug overdose deaths in New York, 420 cases were due to heroin. The said figure is the highest yet, followed by the 400 heroin overdose deaths in 2003.
Also, the number of people who died from heroin overdose more than doubled in the last three years, with prescription opiod deaths and use tapering off during the same time.
Surprisingly, the number of cases which involved death by heroin is highest in the wealthiest areas in New York. Over the last three years, deaths in the said areas rose from 1.9 to 5.6 deaths for every 100,000 individuals.
The biggest rise in heroin overdose deaths was in Queens, with 81 cases this year versus 53 from last year. Reportedly, the rise was among young, white males.
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an addiction specialist in the health department in 2003, stated that the profile of a heroin addict is no longer the same as it was 10 years ago.
But now, younger and wealthier drug users who had once abused prescription drugs have switched to heroin because the drug provided more intensity for less money.
A large number of drug abusers continue to be older adults, however, Deborah Witham, chief program officer at VIP Community Services, a treatment center where most patients are on Medicaid, shared that younger users are increasing.
Because of the increase in heroin users in New York, police officials have been required to carry naloxene with them at all times, just in case they find a person suffering from a heroin overdose.
Naloxene, a drug used to counter the life-threatening effects of a narcotic overdose, has been used in treating heroin overdose since 2010 and has been successful in reversing over 500 overdose cases.
Researchers stated that overdose from methadone, on the other hand, have remained the same over the last three years.
On The Rise: Over 420 Heroin Overdoses In New York.