Heroin abuse considered a nationwide epidemic

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Drug overdose is now one of the leading causes of accidental deaths.

Attorney General Eric Holder called it an “urgent public health crisis,” increasing problems nationwide with heroin abuse, and Massachusetts is no exception.

Jimmy Newcomb of Agawam told 22News, “I’ve actually had a couple friends that have had heroin addiction, and one of them is actually in jail now because of it. He overdosed in my arm one time.”

According to the state Department of Public Health, the number of people who died because of heroin overdose has skyrocketed in the last decade. In 2000, 363 people died after overdosing. That number went up to nearly 650 in 2011.

“That does shock me… that it is so many. I guess I didn’t really think about it. I mean, I knew that there is a heroin problem, but… Crazy,” Raquel Thomas of West Springfield said.

Over the weekend, Massachusetts State Police and Springfield Police arrested two people and seized thousands of bags of heroin. One was caught allegedly transporting heroin to Vermont. The other was found at a Springfield home after a raid.

“It’s awful, and it should be easier to fix, but nothing is ever easy. It’s going to take a long time to fix the problem,” Donna Reardon of Agawam said.

State Police said mixing heroin with other drugs and an increasing availability may have contributed to the rising heroin crisis.