Drug crimes: heroin overdose numbers skyrocket
As the heroin epidemic gets worse and worse in Western Pennsylvania, authorities are trying to figure out how to best curtail the number of overdose deaths that have occurred over the last several years. On Monday, reports out of Washington County show that this past weekend likely saw three more deaths. This, after first responders say they fielded seventeen drug overdose calls on Sunday night alone. Responders say they received call from places in Washington County, such as Canonsburg, Charleroi, Donora, Houston, Washington, and Amwell. As mentioned, three people died because of overdoses and three people were saved by officers with Narcan, the heroin overdose reversal drug. If you have questions about drug charges in Pittsburgh, call Pennsylvania drug charges attorney Gary Gerson today for a free consultation at (412) 281-3380 . Authorities have not yet identified those who died or where the deaths occurred. Toxicology reports are pending to verify what caused the fatalities, but the writing is on the wall for those on the scene. “It is suspected that it is due to heroin,” said the Washington County District Attorney. He said that 211 people have died of drug overdoses in Washington County since 2011. But the problem does not lie solely in Washington County. Police from Monessen in Westmoreland County say they handled what they suspect to be three heroin overdoses this weekend as well. Luckily, no one died in Westmoreland. Monday, fourteen states, including PA, learned that the White House Drug Policy Office has pledged $2.5 million for a “Heroin Defense Strategy” that help make the state more safe from the epidemic. Senator Bob Casey says that “The spread of heroin is a public health and law enforcement challenge the likes of which we have not seen in quite some time.” “It’s critical to ensure our law enforcement has the resources and our public health professionals have the tools to treat addiction and stop the spread of illegal drugs.” In addition to drug enforcement and arrests, the federal approach will emphasize and expand community-based efforts to prevent addiction, increase treatment access, reduce overdose deaths and support addicts in recovery, Botticelli said. Confronting the heroin problem with different approaches is imperative in fixing the issue, said Holly Martin, chief operating officer and staff psychologist at Washington County-based Greenbriar Treatment Center. Experts believe the focus should be on arresting offenders, but on getting them help. Western Pennsylvania has weathered several incidents in which heroin, often laced with other powerful painkillers, caused a wave of fatal and near-fatal overdoses in a short period. This past April, two people in the Pittsburgh area died in heroin-related incidents, while ten were saved when paramedics administered Narcan. “Stamp bags”, or individual doses, of heroin were found at several scenes with specific brand marks that dealers use to distinguish their drugs from other dealers’ drugs. Police do not take drug crimes like possession and intent to sell lightly. You can expect to be fully charged if you are arrested with any form of heroin. If you have questions about drug crimes like intent to distribute or possession of heroin, please call Pittsburgh drug crimes attorney Gary Gerson for a free consultation at (412) 281-3380 today.