Attorney General Eric Holder, declaring heroin addiction is an “urgent and growing public health crisis,” urged first responders to carry the drug naloxone that helps resuscitate victims from an overdose, reports USA today. “Addiction to heroin and other opiates — including certain prescription pain-killers — is impacting the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life — and all too often, with deadly results,” Holder said in a video message on the Justice Department website. “The transition to and increase in heroin abuse is a sad but not unpredictable symptom of the significant increase in prescription drug abuse we’ve seen over the past decade.”
Between 2006 and 2010, the attorney general said, heroin overdose deaths increased by 45 percent. Between 2008 and 2013, heroin seizures along the U.S. southwest border increased by more than 320 percent. The attorney general said 17 states and the District of Columbia have amended their laws to increase access to naloxone, resulting in more than 10,000 overdose reversals since 2001. The Holder statement was posted after the Washington Post reported that federal officials, during a long crackdown on prescription drug abuse, had not acted swiftly against a rising heroin problem.