Heroin Death Toll Continues to Rise

nejmopioidThere have been a lot of reports in the news lately regarding the declining numbers in teen drug abuse, giving some people the feeling that drug use in the country is starting to become something we have more control over. While more teens may be staying away from drugs, there are still plenty of heroin addicts out there, and unfortunately, they are dying at an alarming rate.

When a person takes heroin they do so because of the feeling it gives them, as when the drug hits the system the person feels a sense of euphoria, they become relaxed and tired. In the event that someone takes too much heroin, they pass out and vital organs begin to shut down. Many heroin overdose deaths occur as a result of respiratory failure.

“Usually when you are sleeping, your body naturally remembers to breathe. In the case of a heroin overdose, you fall asleep and essentially your body forgets,” explained Dr. Karen Drexler, an associate professor at Emory University.

Since state and Federal law enforcement agencies have cracked down on the sale of prescription drugs like OxyContin and Percocet, many former painkiller addicts have turned to heroin to supplement as the replacement. Due to the flood of people turning to heroin, it is no surprise that the death rate continues to rise, while the death rate from prescription drugs remains relatively constant now. In fact, reports show that the amount of people who have passed away from heroin overdoses has increased 39% in just the last year. There were 5,927 people who died in 2012 from heroin overdoses. That number jumped to 8,260 by 2013.

In order to combat the number of people dying from heroin overdoses, many police agencies around the country have started carrying doses of naloxone with them, administering to anyone who is in the midst of a heroin overdose. The naloxone helps reverse the effects of the drug and brings the person out of the overdose before they pass away. While this can help save lives in critical and emergency situations, more education and treatment is necessary to reduce the problem.