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Naloxone access urged as U.S. heroin use increases

posted Feb 12, 2014, 12:25 PM by Victor   [ updated Feb 12, 2014, 12:27 PM ]
February 12, 2014

In the U.S., heroin use increased 79% between 2007 and 2012, with four of five new heroin users having previously abused prescription opioids. In many states across the country heroin is much cheaper in comparison to street prices of prescription opioids such as oxycodone. The cheap price combined with the fact that heroin provides a longer-lasting high that is very similar to pharmaceutical opioids makes switching to heroin a logical next step for many prescription opioid users.

The New York Times published an article in their Health section on Monday on how prescription painkillers have become a gateway drug to heroin. The article below published yesterday by Bloomberg News states that heroin-related deaths jumped by 84 percent in New York City between 2010 and 2012. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has acknowledged heroin overdose deaths are a growing national crisis, and federal drug officials are urging that access to naloxone be expanded.
Naloxone access urged as U.S. heroin use increases
Bloomberg Businessweek - February 11, 2014


Relatives of heroin addicts should be allowed to keep an overdose antidote available as use of the illegal drug surges in the U.S., prompted by increased abuse of prescription painkillers, federal drug officials said.

As the street values of medicine-cabinet pills rise because of federal limits on their access, abusers have turned to drugs such as heroin that cost less, said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It’s a “growing national crisis” that must be addressed with a new national focus on prevention and treatment, he said.

Heroin use increased 79 percent in the five years ended in 2012, with 669,000 people in the U.S. reporting they had taken the drug, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health last year. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died earlier this month from a suspected heroin overdose. Canadian actor Cory Monteith, best known for his role in the television show “Glee,” died in July from a combination of heroin and alcohol.

“It’s clear we’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” Kerlikowske said today on a conference call.

Four of five new heroin users previously used prescription drugs non-medically, he said.

“The pathway seems to moving from prescription drugs to heroin, which is a very dangerous development,” Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said during the call.

Heroin-related deaths jumped 84 percent in New York City in 2012 from 2010, according to the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Heroin overdoses in Boston rose 76 percent over the same period, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh said in a statement.

Continue reading at Bloomberg Businessweek...