heroin

51fifty (Wikimedia Commons)

A summit is being convened in South Florida to explore the scope of abuse of heroin and other opioid drugs and examine ways to tackle the problem.

WMFE

A record number of heroin overdoses in Manatee County has put a strain on families and facilities.

Those same overdoses are pushing the limits of the medical examiner's office, which has seen record numbers of autopsies in July and August of this year, according to the Bradenton Herald.

The number of newborns who are physically dependent on drugs in Florida has nearly doubled since 2010, according to The News-Press.

WMFE

Two Florida counties are testing a program to treat incarcerated heroin users.

Rubio To Hold Hearing On Heroin 'Epidemic'

May 25, 2016
WMFE

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will hold a hearing Thursday in Washington on heroin-related issues, with the panelists including Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and officials from the U.S. Department of State and the federal Office of Drug Control Policy, according to Rubio's office.

A Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department transport unit is often the first stop for who somebody who's overdosed.  

“They are going to be extremely cyanotic due to the lack of breathing,”said Jacksonville Rescue Division Chief David Castleman in response to what he's encountered treating overdoses. "They’re going to be blue. Unresponsive completely."

As more addicts on the First Coast are turning to heroin for their highs, overdoses have skyrocketed.

 


Courtney Griffin was addicted to heroin and ready to get help. She packed up her things, and her mom drove her to a residential treatment facility about an hour from their home in New Hampshire. There was a bed waiting for her.

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

Pia Christensen/Association of Health Care Journalists

Dr. Vivek Murthy is not only one of the youngest people ever named the U.S. Surgeon General, the 38-year-old also is the first person of Indian descent to hold the post.

But there’s one more thing: he's a Floridian.

Addiction Epidemic Fuels Runaway Demand For 'Sober Homes'

Apr 7, 2016
Associated Press

The nation's epidemic of addiction to painkillers and heroin is fueling runaway demand for a once-obscure form of housing known as "sober homes," where recovering addicts live together in a supervised, substance-free setting to ease their transition back to independence.

University of Washington Health

A prescription drug that counters the effects of an opioid overdose will soon be available over the counter.

Central Florida Heroin Epidemic Reaches Capitol Hill

Mar 23, 2016
Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.

Central Florida’s heroin epidemic has reached Capitol Hill lawmakers.

At a National Oversight Committee Hearing chaired by Florida Congressman John Mica, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs discussed ways that local government officials, law enforcement and medical specialists in the region are working together to tackle rising death tolls.

Abe Aboraya

The Orange County Heroin Task Force unanimously approved a plan Monday to combat Central Florida’s growing heroin problem.

Renata Sago/WMFE

Former heroin addict Blake Nickerson stood at the podium in the Orange County Board of Commissioner chambers Monday where the year-old heroin task force was meeting to discuss its latest strategies for ending the heroin epidemic that’s led to hundreds of deaths in the past five years.

The mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., wants to create a place where people can use heroin or other drugs injected drugs under supervision, in an effort to combat soaring deaths from overdoses. But that's a lot easier said than done.

As the drug-related death toll rises in the United States, communities are trying to open more treatment beds. But an ongoing labor shortage among drug treatment staff is slowing those efforts.

When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

"This will fix me," O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. "It better fix me or I'm screwed."

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

"Same thing," he says. "Percocet, like, off the street. Pills."

Opioid deaths in Manatee County are on track to double by the end of the year.

County officials believe this spike is the result of Florida’s crack down on pill mills. Now, users are turning to heroin and a synthetic drug called fentanyl sometimes with deadly results.

The crisis is putting a strain on community agencies from law enforcement to treatment centers.

Dozens Arrested in Heroin, Sex Trafficking Ring

Sep 22, 2015
WMFE

An investigation into a heroin and sex trafficking ring has ended with the arrest of more than two dozen people. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement today after a two-year investigation.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Manatee County, on Florida's west coast, is home to more than 300,000 people.  It's known for its beaches, and if you go just a short distance inland, you'll pass by the iconic fruit stands and working citrus groves.

AnneMarie Zagari found her teenage son unresponsive on the couch after he took too many opioid painkillers in 2011. She began pounding his chest and slapping his face, and finally succeeded in reviving him by giving him CPR. It was a terrifying moment. And that panic wouldn't have been necessary if she'd had access to the drug naloxone (also known as Narcan), which can instantly reverse an overdose.

"It would have been instant revival," Zagari says.

Heroin overdoses are rising most everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Manatee County.

Around the U.S., a worsening heroin epidemic has more and more cities turning to the anti-overdose drug naloxone to reduce deaths from abuse. Also known as Narcan, the medication blocks the effects of opioids and reverses the respiratory depression that occurs during an overdose.

WMFE

In July 2015, emergency responders in Manatee County handled more than 200 heroin overdose calls. And the repeat overdose calls alone are nearly three times what the overall total was for July 2014.

If you've ever had surgery, you may have been given an analgesic named fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a favored painkiller because it acts fast. But it's also 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The powerful drug has made its way to the streets and increasingly is being used to cut heroin — resulting in a deadly combination.

AP

Authorities say federal officers are regularly finding cocaine and heroin concealed in shipments of flowers moving through Miami International Airport.

Copyright 2017 WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore. To see more, visit WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The spread of opiate addiction in this country is a huge national trend made up of thousands of individual stories, many of them tragic.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Orange County Government

The first meeting of a multi-agency task force to combat Orange County’s growing heroin problem was punctuated by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs promising a quick response to an spike in heroin overdoses and deaths. 

“This is going to be a very expedited process,” Jacobs said. “We’re going to spend approximately six months. This task force is not going to meet for six years. … So this is a matter of utmost urgency.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you.

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