Hoffman's death draws attention to surge in heroin use
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 - 01:39
Feb. 5 - Death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in a suspected heroin overdose comes amid a recent surge in heroin abuse. Nathan Frandino reports.
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As the world mourns the loss of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in a suspected heroin overdose, officials are taking a closer look at the deadly drug.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE, UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY, SAYING:
"Well certainly the loss of somebody famous and especially to a drug like heroin really brings a lot of attention, but we've been tracking this resurgence, or upsurge, for quite a while."
That's Gil Kerlikowske, the U.S. director of National Drug Control Policy.
He says officials are seeing a sharp increase in the drug's use.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) R. GIL KERLIKOWSKE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY, SAYING:
"It's a very different heroin problem than something we've experienced in the past."
Hoffman was found Sunday with a syringe in his arm and about 50 small bags of heroin in his Manhattan apartment.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, deaths by heroin overdose have increased 45 percent in the last five years.
Officials blame the increase on the rise of addictive prescription drugs like vicodin and oxycotin.
James Hunt is the acting special agent in charge for the New York Division of the DEA.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) JAMES HUNT, ACTING SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE FOR THE NEW YORK DIVISION OF THE DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION, SAYING:
"Overall usage, we believe is up. It has been fueled by the abuse of prescription medications, oxycontin, roxycontin, vicodin and unfortunately they become addicted to all these opiates, and when they can't it get anymore, they go to the street and heroin is plentiful and it is cheap and potent on the street."
An autopsy of the actor's body was performed on Monday, but it was not known when results would be released.
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