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Heroin Blankets Suburban Communities In Death

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter

Heroin use among U.S. teens more than doubled over the past 10 years, and is now infesting suburban communities.

The rate of heroin use among young adults ages 18 to 25 increased by 109 percent in the last decade, the largest percentage spike among any demographic group, according to data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The problem is mounting in suburban communities that are not used to dealing with drug abuse and were largely immune to previous drug epidemics involving crack cocaine and methamphetamine, reports WFLA.

“It’s in my own home, and I have since learned that not only is it in my home but is rampant in my community,” Stephanie, a mom from Danville, Calif., who discovered her eldest daughter had an addiction, told WFLA. “Now I know maybe there was a Vicodin in middle school, maybe a Percocet in their freshman year that evolved into oxycodone, and then from there, it turned into heroin.”

Stephanie says her daughter has overdosed and been to rehab four times and the struggle is ongoing. Parents of teens with heroin addictions say most parents miss the signs of abuse, because many times they involve innocuous household items like a shoe-lace or straw.

“Had I known that the several times that I found a spoon in my child’s room, that that meant something,” Stephanie told WFLA. “It wasn’t that they were eating cereal in the middle of the night. Finding shoelaces – they’re used as a tourniquet for intervenous heroin injections. Straws. That can be used for snorting. So, these are the little things that I wished that other parents would have talked about.”

A record 33,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015. Opioid deaths contributed to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993 and eclipsed deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2015. The substance accounts for roughly 63 percent of drug fatalities, which claimed 52,404 lives in the U.S. in 2015.

“It is really an epidemic,” Christopher Emmett, a Wilkes-Barre, Penn., resident who lost his son to a drug overdose in August, told NBC News. “We went to 14 funerals of my son’s friends who died of addiction in just one year. They’re dropping like flies, every day.”

Pennsylvania is among a number of states that have seen sharp increases in the overdose death rate from opioids in recent years. New York experienced a 135.7 percent increase in synthetic opioid and heroin deaths between 2014 and 2015. Connecticut saw a 125.9 percent increase over the same time, while deaths in Illinois spiked 120 percent.

South Carolina’s heroin death rate jumped 57 percent between 2014 and 2015. The heroin death rate also rose 46 percent in North Carolina and 43.5 percent in Tennessee over the same period. Heroin-related deaths tripled from 247 in 2011 to 748 in 2015 in Maryland.

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