Heroin Epidemic Part 3: Overdoses, A Quality Control Problem

There were over 300 heroin overdoses resulting in death last year in New Hampshire, not counting the overdoses that were reversed by injecting the victim with Narcan to counteract the effects of the heroin. This leads everyone to declare overdosing as the problem, it isn’t the problem, it is the symptom of the problem.

The real problem is due to the fact that heroin is illegal, thus there is no regulation or oversight over the formulation of the product. How many times has it been stepped on ie: diluted, cut with other substances? What other substances were used to step on the heroin?

The user can’t be sure how much heroin is in the packet he just purchased and what is the strength of the heroin. Is he getting 10% or 25% heroin? Does the packet include other opioids such as Percocet or Fentanyl? Has the user been out of the scene for a while such as at a rehab or in jail? How many of the OD’s are fresh from rehab and jail, thinking they will use the same amount as before only they have lowered their resistance making them susceptible to Od’ing.

How do we solve the problem of bad quality control? Some countries have gone so far as to have clinics available where registered addicts can go to get there daily fixes, using clean needles and a controlled amount. I don’t see that system gaining any traction in the USA.

Having Narcan available does help to limit the number of deaths though it is just treating the symptom. Amazing how many EMT’s report the victim comes out of the overdose raring mad that the EMT ruined his high, they are belligerent and sometimes violent. This puts our First Responders at risk of injury or even death. I personally am not comfortable giving Narcan to everyone including civilian family members, again treating the symptom. How do we ever get any of the addicts to rehabilitate if they are guaranteed to be safe using heroin?

Having law enforcement crackdown on heroin and other hard drug dealers is perhaps the best method. It will dry up the supplies causing the price to escalate. Be aware however as reported in previous essays the amount of money involved makes it nearly impossible to eliminate the drugs, with each arrest another person jumps in to fill the void.

I know I promised 3 essays on this subject, but it is just so large it will take a fourth (4) essay to wrap this up.

Bob DeMaura

NHInsider owner/operator