Seventy-Four Heroin Overdoses Reported In Chicago In Last Three Days, ‘Epidemic’ Looms

Heroin laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl is suspected in a rise in fatal overdoses in Chicago.

More than 20 people are now reported to have died from the bad batch of heroin.

BBC News did a feature on the heroin “epidemic” in Chicago. It was found that nearly half a million Americans are addicted to heroin.

“Much of the heroin supply comes from Mexico, where production has risen more than 600% in the last 10 years.”

The report says that nearly 34,000 twelve-to-17-year-olds try heroin as the popularity of the drug rises due to its low cost and high availability.

It is believed the recent spike in cases is due to adulterated heroin. The mixture of heroin and the pain killer fentanyl have led to the recent overdoses and deaths. Fentanyl is used as part of anaesthesia to help prevent pain after surgery or other medical procedures.

When two drugs of the same type are mixed, the effects are amplified. So, when two narcotics, particularly opiates, are taken together, the “downer” effect will eventually stop one’s breathing. This is why it is recommended to avoid alcohol when consuming any prescription medication as the effects of alcohol alone are severe and so combined with other strong drugs can lead to life threatening conditions, such as heart arrhythmia, hypothermia, the condition of overheating and dehydration present when, for example, MDMA (Ecstasy) is taken on a night out.

Vermont has its own heroin problem. As Rolling Stone reports, there is a crises in the use of opiates, as illustrated by the case of “Eve” who started her addiction to opiates at the age of 12-years-old.

“The sensation it produced was more seductive than any she had ever felt.”

Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, recognized the problem in Vermont’s 2014 State of the State address.

“In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate-drug addiction threatens us,”

ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06: A user addicted to heroin shoots up on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. New York City police are currently investigating the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who was found dead last Sunday with a needle in his arm.
ST. JOHNSBURY, VT - FEBRUARY 06: Drugs are prepared to shoot intravenously by a user addicted to heroin on February 6, 2014 in St. Johnsbury Vermont. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin recently devoted his entire State of the State speech to the scourge of heroin. Heroin and other opiates have begun to devastate many communities in the Northeast and Midwest leading to a surge in fatal overdoses in a number of states. As prescription painkillers, such as the synthetic opiate OxyContin, become increasingly expensive and regulated, more and more Americans are turning to heroin to fight pain or to get high. Heroin, which has experienced a surge in production in places such as Afghanistan and parts of Central America, has a relatively inexpensive street price and provides a more powerful affect on the user. New York City police are currently investigating the death of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman who was found dead last Sunday with a needle in his arm.
February 6, 2014 in Burlington, Vermont.

In Chicago, the current epidemic is shared in a growing number of U.S. states and cities. What is clear from the research is that high density areas are most affected by the epidemic. The drug poisoning deaths from opiate drugs in America, combined with suicide rates, uncovers mass mental illness untreated leading to loss of life.

Drug Poisonings involving heroin and other opiate drugs, by county, 2006-2010.

With this epidemic, what are the authorities doing about treatment? Through heroin detox, a person can beat their addiction, but it requires specialist care, as the withdrawal symptoms are painful and can sometimes be life threatening. As depicted in the film Trainspotting, heroin is not a glamorous addiction.

[Images by Spencer Platt, The White House / Getty Images / US Government]