Experts say heroin use is still rising in Central New York and they don’t expect the problem to improve any time soon. Local police officers have recently saved several people from overdoses by administering an antidote called Naloxone, known as Narcan. Two weeks after police saved a Cicero teen’s life, he died of another overdose. Crouse hospital’s Mark Raymond who works at the heroin treatment center says the problem stems from a rise in prescription opioids, which often lead to heroin use.
" Then once they are addicted it becomes a very difficult task to maintain that addiction. Using, getting intoxicated and then going into withdrawal and that whole effort of constantly obtaining, using and recovering from the substance almost becomes like a full time job."
Raymond says with the rise of prescription painkillers on the streets comes more opportunities for people to try opioids.
"Not everybody has had the chance to use heroin growing up. Nowadays, there is a good chance that your children has to make that decision whereas maybe previous generations alot less people needed to make that decision."
The Upstate New York Posin Center has seen a 400% increase in calls for heroin overdoses over the last five years, with 168 cases reported last year and 53 so far this year. Out of the 12 counties that the center serves, Onondaga had the most calls reported last year with 82. Michelle Calliva says other factors might contribute to the high volume of calls.
" Our higher call rate in Onondaga County may simply be a reflection of those hospitals in Onondaga County knowing us better and calling us more frequently. The difficulty is about why. You'll look also that Monroe county is pretty high up and that may be a reflection of the numbers or it could be population base."
Calliva says hospitals are not required to report heroin overdoses to the center. With the rise in heroin use, more doctors and public safety officials are trained to treat users.