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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
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George Mitrano February 11, 2014 at 07:57 PM
We the parents and grandparents are responsible for the safety and security of our children. It is up to us to get rid of the problem before it gets to them.
its me February 11, 2014 at 08:00 PM
George,if only.
Cheryl Marinko February 11, 2014 at 08:30 PM
You can not place the blame of heroin addiction (or any other addiction) solely on parenting, as I see some people do. People look for a scapegoat, and parents are always a good one. Sometimes parenting does contribute. But sometimes it doesn't. I know a girl who had a very good childhood. Good Mom, good Dad...a very supportive childhood and she became a successful adult with a decent job and all the things that go with it. But she was in a car accident at age 28. Her Dr. prescribed pain killers (oxycontin) and she became addicted. When he cut off the script, she started buying it from the street sellers. That was too expensive. She started buying the cheaper stuff...heroin. All downhill from there. Her good parents no longer had a say in her life.
Steve B February 11, 2014 at 10:04 PM
Op,I completely agree.... the moment some one famous dies ...lol...the next day there are arrests...to funny and then every one saying how he was a legend... etc granted he was good but great guess a matter of opinion.... they should of said he died doing what he enjoyed....
E Magen February 11, 2014 at 10:04 PM
First of all, it's the media that lets us know who dies and who doesn't.. and celebrities get first billing. Second, WHO CARES IF A DRUG ADDICT DIES BY HIS OWN HAND? And my own family member has done heroin and he kicked it, so I'm not biased. I'm sick of drug addicts ruining our country with crime. Doing drugs like heroin and meth and cocaine is dirty, selfish, distasteful, ugly, and even though it is addicting, it can be overcome but the person has to be willing to try. When I hear a drug addict overdoses, I do not feel sorry, no matter who it is.
pja February 11, 2014 at 11:02 PM
i,ll second that....
Allie Df February 11, 2014 at 11:02 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbBl6T9vx3g Above is a trailer for the television pilot I co-produced about the heroin epidemic, specifically on Long Island. My goal is to continue to scale this issue, and the tragedies that occur on a daily basis within our community. Any support is appreciated. Allie
Alex Vagias February 11, 2014 at 11:26 PM
What makes addiction so difficult to deal with is that it is a disease of emotion and of the unconscious. That's why so many clean addicts, still, dream about using. There is an underlying anxiety running the show, driven, usually, by repressed feelings from childhood. For example, Hoffman, to my understanding, lost his father when he was young. He, probably, never dealt, on a deep level with whatever feelings were related to that loss. Recovery is not, simply, about staying away from addictive substances, because, usually, your subconscious anxiety will get your ass-sooner or later, one way or another. Staying away from drugs is nothing more than sobriety, and sobriety is not recovery. Recovery is about facing deep feelings, usually of shame, fear and abandonment. If you don't understand that, then you don't, really, understand addiction. It's not easy. It's a lot of work.
John Watson February 12, 2014 at 03:38 AM
i use heroin everyday but am very careful about not doing to much..great high if you know what your doing....most people dont die are get extremely addicted.im not homless
bobbieand February 12, 2014 at 04:25 AM
Addiction to any drug, including alcohol is genetic as well as mental or emotional. It is just that people tend to have a drug of choice. Alcoholism kills a lot more people than anyone realizes, but most people don't consider alcohol a drug! Most people can take a drink, or pain pills etc. & never become addicted, but addicts can't stop at 1 drink or 14 pain pills. Think about it & have some compassion, please!
John Cobb February 12, 2014 at 04:28 AM
Mama seems fixated on me for some reason. I'm not sure what her problem is, but more than likely she has a weight issue and is probably a heavy set middle ager. She may have an addict in her household and she must be having trouble dealing with it. She always appears on these drug discussions at our local Berkeley Patch and seems to want to challenge my opinions. I only wish her the best for her recovery.
its me February 12, 2014 at 08:56 AM
John watson, I find that hard to believe, you use everyday? Yea ok
Sheriffchris February 12, 2014 at 08:59 AM
All this attention over a self addicted druggie. They make him out to be a hero, some one to note and miss. He was a weak man, who put his addiction in front of his family , his craft and finally his life. His story is sad, but it is a story to fear not reveal.
Sarah Skogland February 12, 2014 at 09:03 AM
STOP. JUST STOP. No one ever seems to give the other side of the "addicts" "disease". My ex son in law started smoking pot with his "cool" dad as a teen. He CHOSE to graduate to coke, pills, crack and heroin. He spent every dime he had on drugs. He starved my daughter and my infant granddaughter, he sold baby furniture and my daughters car for drugs. He had to jump from a 2 story window because a dealer was hunting him down. His family enabled him and blamed by daughter. He was a sorry excuse for a human. When I confronted him he told me he "would die high" and "jail means nothing to me" Ultimately, he was shot by the police during a robbery. Stop coddling these people , they made a CHOICE.
Tony February 12, 2014 at 09:04 AM
One reason no one seems to care is that they don't. Drug addicts cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year, they rob kill and steal to support their habits, don't pay taxes , don't work take aid money from people who really need help.. Drug addicts are no different than alcholics, if they don't want to quit they won't quit and we are wasting our money trying to help them.
its me February 12, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Tony most do want to quit.
its me February 12, 2014 at 09:08 AM
Imagine waking up with a migraine every day. Then someone brings you a pill and it takes it away - most of the time. Then, after using that pill for a while, they tell you that the pill will kill you, eventually in a decade or so. So you try to stop. But every day that migraine. I challenge you not to take that pill that gives (short-term) relief, even knowing its full (long-term) consequences.
Rocky Neidhardt February 12, 2014 at 09:29 AM
We need our military to stop protecting the poppy fields and helping increase heroin production worldwide. It all comes from one place.. Afghanistan. Our military is helping make it much worse!!
Joe Failla February 12, 2014 at 09:39 AM
Look into Teen Challenge - God based ministry for addicts - has saved many lives - Read: The Cross & Switchblade by David Wilkerson - they have facilities all over the U.S. - for men & women of all ages -
steve forte February 12, 2014 at 10:14 AM
Outlaw scripts for oxys and you will cut heroin problems in half.
kenneth archer February 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM
Since the beginning mankind, humans have been looking for their soma; a plant of the gods, the drink of the gods.
Michael Rinella February 12, 2014 at 01:14 PM
The world got along quite well with the poppy until the nineteenth century showed up to synthesize morphine and introduce the syringe. And the twentieth century thought heroin would cure the craving for morphine (yes, this is not made up). Raw opium sap dissolved in wine was used medicinally *and* recreationally for thousands of years. Don't blame the drug, blame modern pharmacology and prohibition laws.
Carey Giles February 12, 2014 at 01:25 PM
I pay attention to most drug related stories going on in the country famous or not, I keep my eye on krokodil, and read about the horrible opiate addiction plagueing new Hampshire. nice to know about that cityofangelsnj.com but even with insurance a lot of suboxene doctors take any sort of insurance really a scam by medical professonals they should be ashamed of themselves
Cheryl Marinko February 12, 2014 at 01:49 PM
Cary Giles, the family member of mine who was addicted to heroin would buy suboxone from addicts whose families paid good money for it, when she couldn't get ahold of any heroin. The person who sold it to her would then turn around and buy heroin.
Karen Goff Sanders February 12, 2014 at 02:10 PM
I am wondering why this is all of a sudden coming up? I guess because of celebrity deaths? Heroin use - overdoses and deaths - has been an epidemic in the State of Missouri going back at least 5 years - why are people acting like this is a new thing? And it crosses all economic lines.
John Cobb 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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