With 2,000 reported heroin-related deaths in New York State in 2011, the nationwide heroin problem is becoming an epidemic. This epidemic is affecting both the city of Syracuse and its neighboring suburbs.
Overdosing on drugs is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than motor vehicle accidents, gun homicides or suicides. And it’s happening right here in Onondaga County. Manlius Police Youth Officer Angela Palmer says in the last year, there were three deaths and eight reported overdoses in the town of Manlius alone.
“We are a very small community. That’s 11 known for this last year. That’s not use, that’s actual overdoses to the point that they had to be medically treated.”
And Melissa Hosier of East Syracuse has seen the drug’s deadly effects firsthand. On November 4th, 2013, her 19-year-old daughter Kali Perry died after overdosing on heroin.
“This is my kid. She was normal, an all-American normal kid that came from a pretty normal family. You’d never look at her and be like, ‘she uses heroin.’ No, you would never think that.”
Due to its highly addictive qualities, experts agree that the best way to prevent heroin addiction is to avoid using the drug in the first place. DeWitt Police Officer Randy Andrews said it’s up to parents to make sure they talk to their children about drug use while they’re still young.
“Do you monitor their smart phones? Do you ask ‘who’s the kid they’re hanging out with?’ Do you get in their business? Do you go into their rooms? We need to be nosy, to ask the questions and bring up the uncomfortable topics in ways that we know are going to reach out kids.”
Heroin is also called a “non-discriminatory” drug because it’s being used by people of all ages, races, genders and socioeconomic statuses.