St. Louis City Heroin Overdoses Increased Last Year


St. Louis city was one of 26 counties nationwide that reported an increase of heroin overdoses last year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice's annual "Drug Threat Assessment" released yesterday.

Here's the DOJ's map showing the other counties where dope fiends died in higher numbers:
Think of the red dots as track marks on the veins of the United States - VIA U.S. DOJ
  • via U.S. DOJ
  • Think of the red dots as track marks on the veins of the United States
The entire Assessment is available online at the DOJ's website and it is a fantastic read. (Want to know how much a gram of pure cocaine should cost? Click here!) It's also chock-full of statistics that could be used to bolster arguments on both sides of the War on Drugs.

In terms of heroin, the government found that availability increased due a substantial increase in production from drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. They estimated that the country produced 18 metric tons of smack in 2007 and 38 metric tons in 2008.

The report reads:
The wholesale purity of Mexican heroin was 40 percent in 2008, the highest average purity for Mexican heroin analyzed under the HSP since 2005 (47%). Additionally, Mexican heroin represented 39 percent (by weight) of all heroin analyzed through the HSP, the highest percentage since 1987 (42%). The wholesale purity of South American heroin stabilized at 57 percent in 2008 after significantly decreasing from 2000 to 2006. However, South American heroin representation under the HSP decreased markedly to 58 percent (by weight) in 2008 from a high of 88 percent in 2003.
Locally, the Post-Dispatch published a report in January about the spike in heroin deaths. They found that more than 100 people overdosed in St. Louis City and County, mostly as a result of "[users] switching from abuse of prescription drugs, either because their supply has been cut off or because heroin is cheaper."

The DOJ agrees, writing that, "Oxycodone abusers with a high tolerance may ingest 400 milligrams of the drug daily (five 80-mg tablets) for an average daily cost of $400. These abusers could maintain their addictions with 2 grams of heroin daily, at a cost of one-third to one-half that of prescription opioids, depending on the area of the country and the purity of the heroin."

Say no to drugs, kids.


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