The numbers of overdose deaths from the coroner in Greenville, SC are disturbing. According to FoxCarolina.com, in a 22-day period between March and April, four men and six women have died of heroin overdoses.
The coroner believes that these numbers could be blamed on heroin that is much more pure. (I have seen similar stories like this popping up all over the country.) Coroner Parks Evans Jr. said, "It doesn't have to be pure, it just has to be a lot more heroin mixed in than what is normally done will cause them to overdose." The numbers are shocking, even to addiction professionals. Adam Brickner with the Phoenix Center said, "It's tremendously shocking and it's very disturbing because these are absolutely preventable deaths." He believes there could be two reasons for the deaths. Brickner said, "One is that there's a bad batch of heroin out on the streets and people have to be careful about what people are putting into their bodies. Another thing is somebody could've gone through withdrawal, could've stopped using for a long time and gone back to using like their old behaviors." (Although I agree that both these theories could explain heroin overdose deaths, I find it highly unlikely that a disproportionately large number of overdose deaths in a short period of time could be attributed to a bunch of people who have been clean for a while that all decided to pick up again at the same time…that just does not make sense.)
The Phoenix Center has seen a decline in people seeking treatment for heroin addiction. But Carol Reeves, who works with Greenville Family Partnership dealing with families affected by drugs and alcohol, said the problem is still out there, and she believes it is growing. She said, "It's happening more and more, and the stigma has been removed because of the massive addiction to opiates in the country."
The Greenville County Coroner is still awaiting toxicology reports to determine if these deaths are due to a more pure form of heroin. In the meantime, they're warning addicts not to shoot up and to get help.
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