Monday, December 03, 2007

Heroin deaths, not just for the young

I was talking with a reporter from Fox News (Chicago) last week, because they were going to do a story on a large drug bust here in Waukegan. It was a heroin centered bust and the police had said it was triggered at least in part due to heroin overdose deaths, so she was looking for information.

I discussed with her that so far in 2007 we had had 3 heroin-only overdose deaths and 12 others with heroin and other substances. The thing that really seemed to catch her attention was the ages of the overdose victims. The ages ranged from 18 to 53. She was amazed that folks that old died of overdose or that folks that old did illicit drugs. While it is true that most of these deaths were in young adults, 3 of them (20%) could have been (may have been) AARP members.

Heroin use and abuse is not restricted to the young, it is not restricted to poor n’er-do-wells, and it is not restricted to “bad neighborhoods”. Heroin, as is true with all drug abuse, can and does cut across socioeconomic strata. We, as a society, need to realize that and understand the ramifications of that. If we realize that it isn’t just “them”, we can more rationally work toward prevention and treatment. It is not someone else’s problem, it is ours.

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