Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Heroin deaths on the rise in Boston suburbs

Reports of fatal heroin overdoses, especially among young people, have made local headlines and sent shockwaves through cities and towns south of Boston, the Boston Globe reports.

"We've seen a steady increase in fatal and nonfatal overdoses since the late 1990s, and we've seen a dramatic shift in use patterns -- younger and younger kids using stronger and stronger drugs," said Michael Botticelli, a substance abuse specialist of the Department of Public Health. "This is part of the trend we've seen. It's not confined to the South Shore."

The US Drug Enforcement Agency reports that Massachusetts is flooded with heroin that's cheap and potent, and the overdoses are often linked to heroin that is up to 60 percent pure, and sometimes even stronger.

In 1990, the state health department recorded 87 fatal opioid-related overdoses in Massachusetts. Thirteen years later, the toll had increased more than six fold to 549 fatal overdoses for the year. More.

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