The surge in the use of heroin and prescription opioids is resulting in more deaths than violent crimes and car crashes in many communities, law enforcement officials said this week. They met in Washington, D.C. to discuss the problem and possible solutions.
Many overdose deaths are due to heroin, which is easily available and potent, USA Today reports. Heroin costs between $4 and $20 per bag, depending on the location—much less expensive than prescription opioids.
Full story of heroin surge use at drugfree.org
Heroin laced with the synthetic opiate fentanyl is suspected in at least 50 recent fatal overdoses in three states, according to law enforcement officials. In Pennsylvania, the drug combination is suspected in at least 17 deaths. Officials in Maryland and Michigan are also investigating deaths linked to the drug mix. In Flint, Michigan, fentanyl-laced heroin is suspected in four recent overdoses.
Fentanyl is often used during surgery. Drug dealers add it to heroin to create a stronger high, ABC News reports.
People who use the drug combination “don’t know that fentanyl is in it and shoot it up and stop breathing, because they were unaware of the added punch in the narcotic,” said Ray Isackila, counselor and team leader of addiction treatment at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. He noted fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, and affects the central nervous system and brain. “Heroin with illicit fentanyl laced into it makes it stronger, cheaper and more desirable on the street,” he said. “People hear about this new heroin or this super strong heroin that someone is selling,” and they want it.
Full story of fatal overdoses at drugfree.org
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled a heroin dealer cannot be held liable for a client’s death and given a longer sentence if heroin only contributed to the death, and was not necessarily the only cause.
The ruling is likely to result in a shorter sentence for Marcus Burrage, who received 20 extra years in prison because of his client’s death, according to USA Today. The decision is also likely to make it more difficult in the future for prosecutors to extend drug sentences, the article notes.
Full story of dealer sentencing at drugfree.org