“Heroin abuse is truly ubiquitous,” reads one of the early points of the DEA’s November 2015 report on overdose statistics in the state of Pennsylvania. The report continues, “analysis of toxicology reports indicated heroin… in 94% of the counties that reported drug overdose statistics in 2014.”

With statistics like these, the heroin epidemic is thrown into sharp relief. According to the data collected by the DEA over the course of their study, far from being a drug that only affects inner-city youth, seventy percent of heroin deaths were over the age of thirty, largely white, and had incredibly high rates in rural counties (Susquehanna County, with a total population of just over 43,000 had the second highest rate of heroin use, behind only Philadelphia itself.)

 

Pittsburgh at Night

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But why is heroin so wide-spread?

Some sources—such as this article from TheWeek.com—cite the low price of the product. According to the author, a “stamp bag” of heroin often costs $10 dollars from a dealer, and can reach as little as $4 from a major distribution center such as New York or Philadelphia. Both the cheap price and the inherent danger often come from heroin that has been ‘cut’ with substances that can be either relatively inert—such as laxatives—or incredibly dangerous, as with the prescription painkiller Fentanyl.

Other sources connect the heroin epidemic with the widespread abuse or prescription opioid painkillers such as OxyContin and Percocet. According to an interview with CNN, a number of users begin their habit through widely available prescription drugs, and move on to heroin as a cheaper, more efficient alternative. The problem has been exacerbated by the Government crackdown on prescription drugs, which has forced users to default to heroin as the—sadly—more accessible alternative. As one person interviewed by CNN says about heroin, “It’s literally five minutes down the road… It’s everywhere.”

The data is clear. Heroin use is a problem that plagues Pennsylvania in its entirety, and that extends across the country. In Allegheny County alone, 307 people died from drug-related overdose in 2014. Heroin, as the DEA has said, is truly ubiquitous.

If you or your loved ones have been affected by the abuse of illicit substances, please contact us. Larry Forletta has years of experience working for the DEA, and can help you establish your case in a sensitive, professional manner.