As Heroin Overdoses Steadily Rise Nationwide, Sheriff's Combat Local Cases With Antidote

Of the 13 overdose cases in the East County last year, 11 were saved by Narcan - the other two were already dead.

Heroin overdoses are still on the rise, and the demographic of opiate users has changed drastically in the last 14 years, according to a newly-released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also known as "drug poisoning," overdose is now the leading cause of injury-related death in the country, according to the report. There were nearly 44,000 overdose cases in 2013, and the numbers are steadily increasing.

The study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from 28 states and outlined the trends and demographics of opiate overdoses from 2000 through 2013.

According to the study, men are four times more likely to overdose on heroin than women, and the demographic has changed from non-Hispanic black persons aged 45-64 in 2000 to non-Hispanic white persons aged 18-44 having the higher rate of overdose in 2013.

The greatest increase in heroin-related deaths was seen in the Midwestern United States.

More than 300 people in San Diego were expected die from heroin overdoses in 2014, which lead the San Diego Sheriff's Department to become the first law enforcement agency in the state to carry Naloxone, a life-saving medication that interrupts the opiate response. Deputies began using the antidote last July.

The generic form of Narcan, is designed to prevent an overdose, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last year he wants to see all first responders - including law enforcement - carry the drug, something paramedics have used for years.

Two weeks after the sheriff's department implemented the use of the antidote in the East County, Traffic Sgt. Scott Hill from the Santee Sheriff's Station saved an El Cajon man's life by using the drug.

Sheriff's Captain L. James Bovert said of the 13 opportunities to use Naloxone in the field, deputies were able to save 11 victims. The other two, he said, were already dead when deputies arrived.

As part of the same program, deputies also give victims and their families a brochure with information on how to recognize signs of an overdose, as well as treatment options.

The McAlister Institute partnered with the sheriff’s department as well to provide drug prevention and addiction treatment services during the Naloxone pilot program.

Anyone struggling with substance abuse or trying to help a loved one coping with addiction can call the McAlister Institute at (619) 442‐0277 or (619) 987‐6393. Counselors are available 24 hours a day on the County's Crisis Hotline at (888) 724‐7240.

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