Shelby: The sudden death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman over the weekend has sparked an awareness about a dangerous street drug, heroin laced with additives. As Keith Kocinski tells us, an epidemic has been quietly spreading across the U.S.
Keith: Jordan Medoff loved playing the guitar and hitting the gym. You would never guess, but he was also a heroin addict.
Michelle Medoff: When I tell people that his addiction started 10 years ago, they kind of look at me with shock because he was fourteen 10 years ago.
Keith: Jordan died of a heroin overdose in September.
Young people like Jordan have become the new face of America’s heroin problem.
Expert: Heroin, you would think normally it’s not in the suburbs, but it is in our suburbs.
Keith: While the deaths of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who starred in The Hunger Games, and Cory Monteith of Glee have increased awareness of the drug, heroin abuse has been quietly spreading in American suburbs. In Vermont, officials reported an 800% increase since 2000.
Expert: It doesn’t affect just one class of people. It affects rich and poor. It affects Republicans and Democrats. It knows no party lines. It knows no economic lines.
Keith: In New York’s Long Island, the heroin death toll is the highest it has ever been: 120 deaths last year, 121 the year before. Three people died in just one week from heroin overdoses, including 19-year-old Tyler Segler.
Expert: A lot of our young, talented kids from upper-class communities are dabbling with prescriptions drugs, and they’ve built up their tolerance of prescription drugs and now they’re doing heroin.
Keith: One reason for a recent surge in overdoses: a deadly mixture of heroin and the prescription drug fentanyl, a powerful painkiller that is deadly if not taken under a doctor’s care. In western Pennsylvania alone, the heroin-fentanyl mix claimed 22 lives in just two weeks.
Dr. Reynolds: I’ve been in public health for twenty-five years. I’ve never seen it this bad.
Keith: One government study found that between 2002 and 2012, heroin use in the U.S. doubled.
This Pennsylvania resident didn’t want to show his face but said he has come dangerously close to dying several times, but he can’t stop the addiction even though he wants to.
Pennsylvania resident: To be honest with you, it’s not that we want to do it; it’s that we have to do it because you can’t function without it.
Keith: An addiction that could turn deadly.
Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.