Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spike in heroin deaths

This certainly caught the attention of the local media. Headline:

Heroin deaths on the rise
County officials blame change in percentage of purity

I was called by a local reporter about a drug-induced homicide case going to trial and I mentioned an apparent increase in heroin deaths recently (2008 to now) and my suspicion that it might be related to an increase in purity of our street heroin. An increase in concentration was inferred by our increase death incidence, our testing finding no adulterants similar to some cases of Fentanyl-heroin we saw in the past, and that some of the cases seemed to look like “hot-shot deaths” (syringe barely out of the arm). So we sent several samples found at death scenes to the DEA for purity/concentration testing. Many areas of the country monitor their concentrations (for example, Chicago found a 14.6% to 21.4% jump in 2007), our county has not followed that measure in the past but I think it is important information to have. We await our testing results.

Also, hopefully getting out this information to the public can help drive down heroin use and encourage folks to seek treatment for their addiction (and decrease deaths).

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