Is Anyone Paying Attention to Heroin Deaths When It's Not a Celebrity?

Heroin has been a growing problem in many parts of the country.

file photo
file photo
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death Feb. 2 has generated touching tributes, discussions of addiction and drug laws and even indignation.

Seemingly overlooked, however, are the thousands of lives heroin destroys on a yearly basis across the United States and the fact that number has been on the rise in many places.

For example, heroin overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2013 nearly doubled – from 37 in 2012 to 63. That last number is likely to rise as 30 to 40 drug deaths still are pending a final ruling by the state medical examiner.

In suburban Chicago, DuPage County averaged one heroin death every eight days – seventy-two deaths over a period of 20 months.

"Heroin knows no boundaries," DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in September. "It's not just teens. It's adults, professionals. We've seen overdose victims from 15 to 64 years old. Every socioeconomic area of the community is affected by heroin."

In New Jersey, the problem has been widespread. Recently, Patch ranked the top 20 communities with the worst heroin problem.

Some highlights:
As purity levels of heroin fluctuated over the last year, communities experienced sudden spikes in drugs deaths. In October, Camden County, New Jersey had five people die in a 24 hour period. In April, Ocean County had nine deaths in eight days.

"To me, all heroin is poison," said Al Della Fave, a career law enforcement officer who is now spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutors Office in New Jersey. "Purity levels are at an all-time high."

One question is how to deal with such drug scourges. Is it a law enforcement issue? A health care crisis? Are the nation's drug laws aligned in such a way as to adequately deal with such issues?

Share your thoughts in our comment section.

Tony Schinella, Daniel Nee, Tom Davis and Karen Chadra contributed to this report
Heywood February 12, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Here's Hoffman's legacy: "An official told the NYT that a syringe was found in the actor's arm at the scene, accompanied by what appeared to be an envelope of heroin. “It’s pretty apparent that it was an overdose," the official confirmed. "The syringe was in his arm.” So to me, he has no celebrity status, just another dead junkie, those who embellish him are no better than he was.
Midge Gerlach February 12, 2014 at 06:47 PM
I think we pay more attention when it comes close to home.We dont want to hear of anyone losing their life because of over dose.Its a sad situation.We need more treatment centers that dont cost an arm and a leg.Instead of hugh fines costs of the schooling and the fees these people have to pay.
George Mitrano February 12, 2014 at 10:23 PM
Ok so we all have different opinions about drugs . To Cheryl M. I wasn't putting the blame on parenting. But my question to all is how do we keep the drugs away from our children. WE THE PARENTS owe it to them.
fortunate762 February 13, 2014 at 07:56 AM
Here is a TED talk presentation by a medical doctor and his efforts on just plain: Addiction - there are many more working hard at facing this issue of addiction in our society. Dr. Gabor Mate : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66cYcSak6nE Addiction may be work, drugs, power/control,ect. in order to meet the human basic "needs" in that search to become "whole", however the ACE Study-(Adverse Childhood Experiences from: theannainstitute.org -powerpoint) http://www.theannainstitute.org/ACE%20Study/ACE%20STUDY.html shows... that approx. 1 in 5 unfortunately are broken spirits, before they leave adolesence; visualize a stadium of sports fans- every 5th person has a red shirt on, WOW that is a major silent epidemic. Yes, this is a big social & environmental concern.
George Mitrano February 13, 2014 at 10:18 PM
Fortunate762 I think u are wright ,and We the Parents have to put a stop to this big social &environmental concern.


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