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Another Heroin Death: Another Chance to Educate

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Philip Seymour HoffmanPhoto by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Another Heroin Death: Another Chance to Educate

On Sunday, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 48, was found dead in his New York City apartment of an apparent heroin overdose. Hoffman’s apartment was littered with 70 baggies of heroin with the mark of “Ace of Hearts” and other prescription drugs. Only days earlier, Pittsburg officials warned of the dangers of “bad batch “of heroin that have led to at least 4 deaths in a 24 hour period and possibly 15 more deaths over a 5 day period. The batch was marked with the name” TheraFlu” and has also been linked to deaths in Maryland and 5 other deaths in Nassau County, New York. The same batch is now believed to be “rebranded “under new names as the death toll climbs from this deadly version, according to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office investigators.

These are the facts. Heroin use is on the rise. According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Americans using heroin has nearly doubled from 373,000 to 669,000 in 2012. Most Americans are turning to heroin as a cheaper version of opioid pain pills such as OxyContin, which produce the same type of “high” but as the addiction continues the cost of underground illegal drugs sales soars. The typical OxyContin will cost about $100.00 while a bag of heroin can go for anywhere from $20 and up but can usually be used for more than one dose. Nationwide crackdowns on the prescription pill abuses have caused a shortage for the addict and thus turn to the inexpensive abuse of heroin.

Another reason for the increase of the use of heroin is the manufacturers in Mexico have increased their production. Mexican distribution used to be diverted to the western United States but have made inroads into the East Coast, according to U.S. drug officials. According to the DEA, heroin seizures along the border between the U.S and Mexico rose 232 % from 2008 and 2012.

Locally, Delaware County, has created the Heroin Task Force, which helps to educate and inform our community about the dangers of this drug. The Task Force goes into schools to educate students but also educates parents about this deadly drug. The increase use of this drug is considered a threat to all not just the user. Communities see an increase in crime such burglary, robbery and vehicle thefts. There is also the threat to the safety of a neighborhood when a drug dealer sets up shop.

According to Steve Passierb, President and CEO of the Partnership at Drugfree.org,” Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death really has really been a wake-up call to people. His death isn’t an anomaly. He’s only representative of the larger trend”.

Wake up calls have been sounded before though. Just this past summer there has been the death of Cory Monteith. His death resulted from a combination of drugs, including heroin, codeine, and morphine. He had recently completed a stint in rehab. As far back as the 1960’s, icons have been lost with the use of illegal drugs including heroin. There was River Phoenix, James Belushi, and Heath Ledger of this generation. The drug culture continues as the war continues to end this cycle of loss.