Fighting Md.’s surge in heroin use requires a new strategy, task force told

By Elizabeth Koh, The Washington Post


Bob Kozloski has had two missions since his son died three years ago from an OxyContin overdose: honoring his son’s memory and helping others avoid the same fate.

Thursday morning, he drove 40 miles from his home in Frederick to Silver Spring to testify before a Maryland task force assigned to combat the opioid epidemic in the state. Clutching a folder stuffed with copies of his comments and business cards titled “UNSTOPPABLE Father’s Pursuit,” Kozloski joined several law enforcement officers, local officials and members of the public who spoke in the last of six scheduled public meetings before the panel submits its final recommendations in December.

Read More

Today’s Heroin Epidemic - more people at risk, multiple drugs abused

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Heroin use has increased across the US among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes. Not only are people using heroin, they are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid painkillers. As heroin use has increased, so have heroin-related overdose deaths. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.

Read More

Hogan agrees to spend $2 million to fight heroin

Gov. Larry Hogan committed Thursday to spending $2 million to fight heroin addiction, the first time he has agreed to spend any of a $200 million pot of cash that has stirred discord in Annapolis.

The governor campaigned on addressing Maryland's growing crisis of heroin deaths. In a wide-ranging interview with a regional press association Thursday, he said he would spend the sum set aside by lawmakers for heroin treatment.

"It's an emergency facing our state," said Hogan, a Republican. "It's tearing apart families and communities."

Read More

Baltimore County family struggles with impact of heroin's grip

By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun

Bird River Road bends and gives up its memories.

"That's where Adam's real dad lived," Christine Samuels says, nodding out the car window as she heads down the familiar road.

She was 17 and still in high school when Adam was born. "We grew up together," Samuels says. "I was a kid when I had him."

She is 43 years old now. As she continues down the road, a more recent landmark looms to the right: the Our Lady Queen of Peace church hall that Adam's younger brother Cameron burglarized about a year and a half ago.

Cameron used the money to buy heroin, the drug that had snaked its way from older to younger brother, tightening its hold even as Christine battled desperately to reclaim them.

Read More

Lawmakers press company on cost of heroin overdose drug

By Peter Sullivan, The Hill

Two top lawmakers are pressing a pharmaceutical company for answers about price increases on a drug police departments use to treat heroin overdoses.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member on a health subcommittee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, sent a letter Monday to Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the drug naloxone. 

Read More

Anne Arundel County Executive Declares Heroin Public Health Emergency

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh announced an executive order declaring a County-wide heroin public health emergency and directing all County agencies to use "all best efforts" to eradicate the use of heroin in the County.

Anne Arundel County's executive said he's going to declare a public health emergency as soon as next week in response to the "heroin epidemic" in the region, citing a growing number of deaths related to the highly addictive opioid.

Read More

Don't Lose State's Momentum Treating Heroin

Once largely relegated to Baltimore City, heroin use and its related adverse consequences are spreading to every part of the state, and an increasing number of Maryland's citizens are dying of heroin overdoses. This shift reflects national trends showing a 74 percent increase in heroin use from 2009 to 2012 and a doubling of heroin overdose rates in 28 states sampled by the Centers for Disease Control. After a sharp reduction in heroin overdose deaths from 2007 to 2010, Maryland heroin deaths have risen to mirror these increases, reaching 464 deaths in 2013.

Read More

Trying to Prevent Heroin Deaths One Shot at a Time

Robert Taylor Jr., and Camille Haviland thought they were being safe—within the bounds of their dangerous heroin habit, that is.

Having bought from a new dealer, Taylor tried just one capsule instead of his usual three or four. Haviland left on an errand; when she returned 15 minutes later, she found him collapsed on the ground, bluish and not breathing.

She started CPR. When paramedics arrived, they injected Taylor with the overdose-reversing drug, naloxone.

"At the time, I would have liked to have had this," Haviland said recently after she and Taylor were trained and certified to administer the drug themselves. "I've had a lot of friends die because people just left them."

Read More

Recovery Coach Helps An Addict Resist Heroin's Lure

The first time Jeremy Wurzburg left a heroin treatment program, he planned to begin Narcotics Anonymous and do all the right things to stay off drugs. But one week later, the skinny, pale young man was hanging out with a guy who was also in early recovery, experiencing what Wurzburg, now 21, has come to realize is a typical turning point for recovering addicts: two guys sitting casually in a car, poised to use drugs again.

Read More

Addict. Informant. Mother.

One day last summer, Ann and her husband, Tom, walked two and a half hours to reach Hazleton, a onetime mining town in eastern Pennsylvania. They had lived there until July, when they were evicted and moved in with Ann’s mother in Sugarloaf, a more affluent township nearby. There was not much to miss about Hazleton, with its decaying downtown and its fading homes spotted with satellite dishes, but to Ann and Tom the town held a shimmering appeal: It had heroin, a lot of it. They had called the usual friends for a ride, with no luck, and their own car had been repossessed. So at midday, the two left Ann’s mother’s condominium by foot and followed the asphalt out of the valley all the way to Hazleton. Eventually they turned onto Alter Street, where, especially in summer, heroin dealers greeted customers outside a packed barbershop and a busy pawnshop, clustering around them, competing for business. Sometimes Ann and Tom joined other users they knew behind a building, where someone had left a tattered couch. Sometimes they got high in an abandoned garage on a side street. Though the walk that day to Alter Street was long, it was worth it to them both: Tom, especially, loved heroin, and Ann loved Tom, and the march to Hazleton was as much about need as it was about love.

Read More

A Suburban Heroin Addict Describes His Brush with Death and Hopes for a Better Life

Recently I received an e-mail from my mother with a link to the harrowing tale of a 16-year-old Northern Virginia girl who overdosed on heroin and died, and whose companions had dumped her body. My mom wrote that she found the story “terrifying, because that easily could have been you. I thank God every day that it wasn’t, and that you are safe and healthy.’’

She was right. It could have been me, and it very nearly was. The only difference was that after I passed out from an accidental heroin overdose, the person I was with called 911 before abandoning me.

Today I am 23 years old, living in a recovery house in Wilmington, N.C., and slowly regaining my life. But it has not been easy.

Read More

Spike In Heroin Use Can Be Traced To Prescription Pads

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has brought attention to a grim reality of drug abuse in America—most notably with the increasing use of heroin.

Hoffman was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, and New York police are investigating his death as a possible drug overdose. Hoffman struggled with drug addiction throughout his career.

This is not the first time heroin use has skyrocketed in the United States. In the 1970s and '80s, the drug took hold in urban centers. But now officials say it is reaching the country's heartland, flooding across the southwest border from Mexico.

Read More

Philip Seymour Hoffman's Death Sheds Light on Heroin Addiction

Next, tonight, heroin addiction in America. A stark number. The number of people using heroin here has doubled in five years.

700,000 people needing help tonight. And everyone who loved Philip Seymour Hoffman is looking back at the recent pictures of him for clues, for the warning signs. Would you know if it was someone you loved?

ABC's Cecilia Vega, now, with a very personal story, reaching across so many lives.

Read More

Heroin Finding A New Home In Md Suburbs

As an unintended consequence of getting tough on those who have been dealing prescription painkillers, some law enforcement agencies in Maryland are reporting an increase in heroin use by young people and others in suburbs and towns across the state who are finding heroin more available and cheaper than prescription drugs.

"So what we have done is driven out the pills so to speak....and what has happened is the pills have become harder to get," Lt. Lee Dunbar, with the Harford County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force, tells WBAL's Scott Wykoff. "What that has done is driven up the price of the pills and heroin has actually become cheaper and more readily available."

Read More

Heroin deaths rise as crackdown on prescription drug abuse succeeds

As efforts to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs have worked, a new problem has emerged, with addicts who can no longer get their fix by popping pills turning to the old-fashioned street drug heroin, health and law enforcement officials say.

The trend shows up in local arrests, drug seizures and overdose deaths. Drug dealers are finding new markets in the suburbs, where teenagers once got their stash from local drugstores or their parents' medicine cabinets, some experts say.

Read More