Heroin has quickly become New York City’s latest drug of choice to abuse, which consequently has led to more deaths caused by overdose than by homicide. According to New York’s Department of Health, the year 2013 ended with 335 homicidal deaths, whereas the number of people who lost their lives due to an overdose was an unbelievable count of 420. There are three separate agencies designated specifically for the fight against drugs – the city’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, NYPD’s narcotics division, and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s NY field division (DEA). In 2014, these agencies as a whole appropriated about 2,186 pounds of heroin, which equals to $300 million, which adds up to 30 million doses of heroin that was taken off the streets of New York.
As of January, the amount of the heroin obtained by the DEA has already exceeded previous numbers based on annual recordings. The realization that 2015 has only seen four months, but the amount of heroin found during those months adds up to the amount of heroin found in an entire year is quite unsettling, to say the least. DEA’s special agent, James Hunt, claims that the numbers currently being seen have greatly surpassed those dating back 35 years ago, when heroin abuse in New York City was nothing short of an epidemic. The only difference between the junk that people consumed back then and the kind people are using today is in the potency levels.
The heroin doses that were destroying lives in 1970’s was roughly 10 percent pure. The reason behind there being more deaths caused by heroin abuse than homicide in NYC today is because the doses they consume come directly from Columbia, traded by the Mexican drug cartel and contains about 60 to 70 percent pure heroin. Now, the whole purpose of increasing the potency was to make this substance a bit more user-friendly. Needles and blood are usually enough to deter anyone from experimenting with the drug, but with the high potency factor, snorting it or sprinkling it on foods or a drink as a topping or garnish allows the user to achieve the same intense high without the poke of an injection.
Heroin hunters that inhabit New York no longer belong to any certain racial group or social economic class. White powder-like residue could be found amongst any person of almost any age coming from any position on the spectrum of class and status. The recent death of Academy-Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman is a prime example. Last February, Hoffman was discovered dead, with a needle sticking out of his arm, inside his West Village apartment. The idea that heroin is a ghetto drug and is only to associated with people living in urban areas has diminished completely.
The extent of this opioid addiction has reached such extremes that it is mandatory for NYPD officers to keep Naloxone, a spray released into the nasal passages of a person experiencing a prescription drug or heroin overdose for revival purposes, on hand at all times. Ever since heroin and its made its comeback to recruit all who use and abuse, homicide is no longer the leading cause of death in the Big Apple. It has been proven that there is no line this fatale addiction will not cross, but NYC authorities will continue to fight and save as many lives as possible in the process.
By Kameron Hadley
Photo By Juan Carlos Bulas Osorio- Flickr License