The death rate from heroin overdoses in the United States nearly tripled between 2010 and 2013, and younger white males replaced middle-aged and older black men as the most common victims of the epidemic, the National Center for Health Statistics reported Wednesday.
The death rate grew from 1 for every 100,000 people in 2010 to 2.7 for every 100,000 in 2013, after rising much more slowly over the previous 10 years, the new report shows. Overall, there were 43,982 drug overdose deaths in 2013, making them the top injury-related killer in the country; of those 16,235 involved opioids and 8,257 were caused by heroin.
The sharp increase in heroin deaths coincided with curbs on abuse of opioid analgesics established about the same time. Authorities have tried to crack down on pill mills and required reformulation of the prescription medications to make them more difficult to use recreationally. The cheaper price of heroin also increased its popularity.
The death rate from opioids such as OxyContin, Demerol and Vicodin declined slightly, from 5.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 people between 2010 and 2013.
The sobering numbers are no surprise to anyone who has been following news reports of heroin's popularity and the drug's toll. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of a heroin overdose 13 months ago, putting a spotlight on the issue.
Read the entire article at the Washington Post
Teenagers in Highland Park, Deerfield and three neighboring communities now have immediate access to a professional counselor if they or a friend are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, depression, difficult family situations, bullying and other issues.
A 24-hour Text-A-Tip service, launched March 2, enables teens to anonymously reach out to a counselor and receive an immediate reply. To participate, teens can send the message "224HELP" or the Spanish variation, "224AYUDAME" to the number 274637.
A teen reporting concerns about a friend need not worry their identity will be disclosed, since the system renders texts untraceable.
"Before the text comes to (the counselors) it goes through a cloaking server where the texter's number is made completely anonymous … even though we can communicate back and forth," said Andy Duran, executive director of LEAD, or Linking Efforts Against Drugs, the Lake Forest-based nonprofit that provides the service.
LEAD focuses on promoting healthy family relationships and preventing alcohol and drug use and other risky behaviors. The agency first launched its Text-A-Tip program in the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communities in early 2014 in response to a number of suicides.
The program's counselors are licensed and certified mental health professionals from The Child, Adolescent and Family Recovery Center in Lake Bluff who understand the needs in the immediate community.
During its first year, the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff Text-A-Tip had nearly 100 calls, most coming from callers concerned about themselves, Duran said.
Response team members rotate according to an on-call schedule and are responsible for addressing each communication appropriately and reporting issues whenever necessary. In the case of life-threatening circumstances, emergency responders will be notified.
Read the entire article at the Chicago Tribune
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