Pittsburgh Seeing “Explosion” Of Heroin Overdoses


Pittsburgh paramedics are seeing more work than ever as the region is experiencing unprecedented levels of heroin use and opioid abuse, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s not a week that goes by that we don’t wake up one heroin overdose,” and oftentimes more, said one. “And it could be in any part of the city. There are no [boundary] lines for heroin.The suburbs are likewise experiencing an explosion of heroin use.

Bryan Kircher of Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services, said that in the 26 years he’s been a medic, he’s never seen such frequency of heroin overdoses — his service responds to as many as 16 cases a month. He sees it affecting all socioeconomic groups and all ages, from teens to those in their 50s and even their 60s. The regional problem is part of a national one. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, ER visits involving heroin jumped from 187,493 in 2005 to 213,118 in 2009. “We’ve always had a baseline community of opiate users in Pittsburgh, but it seems to have exploded in the past decade,” said Dr. Richard Sullivan of Jefferson Regional Medical Center.

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