Officials recently reacted to a surge in heroin overdoses, saying there’s been an explosion in its use. Many are wondering why there has been such a surge.
A batch of the drug laced with fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, was linked to 22 deaths in Pennsylvania earlier this year, and 37 fatal overdoses cases in Maryland in 2013.
The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that heroin overdoses have risen 47 percent between 1999 and 2010. The state of New York seized 67 percent more heroin in the last four years compared to previous years. In February, New York City authorities discovered a heroin mill, seizing over 30 pounds of worth a reported $8 million.
ABC News recently interviewed an undercover federal narcotics agent who commented on the subject anonymously. The agent reported that the increase in heroin usage is likely a result of successful anti-drug operations that have cut down the use of other opiates like OxyContin, which have become more expensive and less available. Heroin has simply taken the place of other drugs.
Heroin’s ingredients vary and are impossible to track, making their potency impossible to know and increases the chances of overdosing. The agent said the potency can vary from 12 to 80 percent, making accidental overdoses that much more possible.
In an attempt to cut down on this dangerous problem, the United States’ Office of National Drug Control has implemented the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which involves law enforcement agencies providing support to Federal, state and local enforcement in high drug-trafficking areas. The program funds 681 initiatives in the United States that develop support for drug prevention, treatment, enforcement, intelligence and information sharing initiatives.