Heroin (opioid) Health Epidemic

The heroin health epidemic has risen to national crisis as thousands of people addicted to heroin are dying from heroin overdose. Nearly half a million Americans are thought to be addicted to heroin. Heroin abuse in the US has been spreading beyond inner cities, resulting in a sharp rise in addiction and death. This epidemic does not discriminate as the “user” is not just the stereotype of the heroin junkie in the back alley shooting up, but also the banker, the nurse, the construction worker, our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, young and old, all races. Why is this happening? The number of heroin users in the US has doubled in the last five years and one reason is thought to be the rise in prescription drugs, in particular the arrival of powerful “opioid” pain medications and pills such as hydrocodone and oxycodone prescribed by doctors to treat a patient pain. However, these pain pills or opioids are powerfully addictive medicines causing the user to require more to get relief. When the doctors cut off pain pills prescriptions, thousands of newly addicted people still needed to find relief and found it in heroin, chemically similar but less expensive, and easy-to-get drug. Much of the heroin supply comes from Mexico, where production has risen more than 600% in the last 10 years. Heroin is often cheaper and easier to use than prescription drugs, some pain drugs have become more expensive, harder to obtain and harder to abuse. Also, many teens are now addicted who start out stealing their parents’ prescription drugs, then graduate to stronger narcotics, including the opiate-based painkiller oxycodone. However those pain pills are expensive and can cost $30 or more each on the street. Instead, the teens go to heroin because it’s cheaper. Now you’re seeing people you would never expect to see getting hooked on heroin. It can happen to anyone who gets hooked on prescription drugs but when the prescription runs out, they switch to $5 and $10 bags of heroin. The problem being that heroin dealers are spiking heroin with fentanyl, which makes the drug much more powerful and much more deadly leading to drug overdoses. People are dying at an epidemic rate as heroin use caused by opioid addiction infects every corner of our society. The main point of this message is don’t think it can’t happen in your family, in your town, in your school because it does and it is happening. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of heroin use, heroin overdose, pain pill overdoes as well as the life saving drug naloxzone used to prevent heroin overdose deaths. The Erie County Health Department offers free classes to train citizens on signs of heroin use and how to use Narcan, the opiate antidote given to a victim of a heroin overdose. A kit containing two doses of naloxone will be given to each attendee who successfully completes the training. Naloxone is a benign drug. If it is administered when an individual is not experiencing an opioid overdose, no harm will come to the patient. There is NO COST to attend this training. Participants must be at least 16 years old. In addition, the Good Samaritan Law protects an overdose victim and those who summon help:
 From arrest in the presence of misdemeanor drug possession and/or underage drinking
 From prosecution in felony possession (unless there are aggravating circumstances, e.g. possession with intent to sell or outstanding warrants)
For more information and free community workshops, visit the Erie County Health Department website at http://www2.erie.gov/health/ or see the list below.

Thursday, March 31st, 6–8pm at Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT), 317 Vulcan St., Buffalo 14207
Saturday, April 2nd, 11am–1pm at Valley Community Association, 93 Leddy St., Buffalo 14210
Saturday, April 2nd, 2–3:30pm at New Testament Revival Cathedral, 987 Kensington Ave., Buffalo 14215
Saturday, April 16th, 9–11am at Phillip Sheridan Building, 3200 Elmwood Ave., Tonawanda 14150
Wednesday, April 20th, 6–8pm at Ben Franklin Elementary School, 500 Parkhurst Blvd., Tonawanda 14223
Thursday, April 21st, 7–9pm at St. Joseph University Parish, 3269 Main St., Buffalo 14214
Saturday, April 23rd, 10am–12noon at Chaffee-Sardinia Volunteer Fire Department, Station #2, 12719 West Schutt Road at Route 39, Sardinia, 14134
Wednesday, April 27th, 6–8pm at True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 East Ferry St., Buffalo 14211
Veterans Administration Medical Center, 3495 Bailey Ave., Buffalo
April 7, 2016, 6–8pm
Questions about Trainings: (716) 858-7690

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