New York City’s Staten Island borough, long a blue-collar bastion of police officers and other city workers, is confronting a heroin epidemic, reports the New York Times. Thirty-six people died of overdoses in 2012, the highest total in a decade. The death rate was higher than the other four boroughs had seen in 10 years. The amount of heroin seized by police on Staten Island jumped 300 percent from 2011 to 2013, and this year shows no sign of abating: Through April 13, officers seized 1,700 glassine bags of heroin, up from 1,200 bags over the same period last year. That does not include 347 bags seized last week in raids at an auto-repair shop and its owner's home.
Drug treatment facilities and addiction programs teem with patients; informal support groups for addicts' relatives have had to find larger meeting spaces. Last month, the city authorized nearly all Staten Island police and emergency medical workers to carry naloxone, a drug to counteract heroin overdoses. “You've got kids falling apart. You've got families falling apart,” said William Fusco of Dynamic Youth Community, a drug-treatment center in Brooklyn whose clients include young Staten Islanders. “You've got people who have got no idea what to do, and they're all saying the same thing: This was a good kid. This was a good kid.”