Experts: Heroin Is A Public Health Crisis

Photo credit:CBS Minnesota

The untimely death of award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has led experts to sound the alarm on the rising heroin epidemic in America. As Scott Hesseltine, operations director at Hazelden Treatment Center in Minnesota, says, “We can’t overshadow the fact that there is a public health crisis that is raging across this country. Scenarios like this are playing out in families and communities with alarming regularity and increased frequency.”

Dr. Joseph Lee, of Hazelden’s youth campus, adds that many start with an addiction to pain pills: “The Centers for Disease Control has classified drug overdose as an epidemic. Some people progress into addiction like this very innocently. They may have a sports injury or have dental work done, and because of the very strong and highly reinforcing nature of these drugs on the pleasure centers of the brain, it’s very easy for someone to slip into addiction.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek says the problem starts when those prescriptions run out: “What we’re seeing is that when they no longer can get access to prescription pain killers, then they turn to heroin. It’s opiate based, and in some cases it’s cheaper than trying to get prescription pain pills.”

So, what can you do to protect your family? Both Dr. Lee and Hesseltine agree that it’s not a good idea to have these strong prescriptions in your home. Hesseltine advises, “Medicine in the medicine cabinet can be extremely dangerous. A lot of times people may have leftover pills from a procedure they had or surgery or an injury and it’s really important to dispose of those appropriately.”

CBS Minnesota, 2/3/14

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