PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The opioid epidemic has been sweeping through the country and the Philadelphia region. Last week, it was reported that there were 35 suspected drug overdose deaths during a five-day period in the city. And now, new numbers from the Center for Disease Control show the magnitude of this public health crisis.
The Washington Post, analyzing data from the CDC, says in 2015, for the first time ever, there were more heroin overdose deaths than gun homicides.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says six out of seven heroin addicts in the city were first hooked on prescription drugs, so closing the gateway to addiction is key. Recent legislation passed in the state aims at that.
“Doctors cannot prescribe pain killers for more than a set period without having the patient come back to be reevaluated for their pain management,” Williams said.
Overall, the CDC says opioid deaths surged past the 30,000 mark for the first time in recent history. A big part of that is synthetic drug Fentanyl, more than a hundred times as powerful as morphine.
Williams says many may feel powerless but they can’t turn their backs on those who are struggling.
“When you see people that are addicted and are going out and they’re doing things to get these illegal drugs – put your arms around them and take them to get rehab,” the DA said. “We have to prevent people from becoming addicted. We as a society have to take a stand.”