WPD reports spike in heroin overdoses

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Many bundles of heroin come with its own trademark stamp. Photo by Christina Haley.
Bindles of heroin seized by the police department. Photo by Christina Haley.

Wilmington police responded to multiple heroin overdoses last weekend, which equaled the total number of overdoses reported in all of 2014.

Police responded to 10 heroin overdose calls April 11-12, and believe there may have been more unreported incidents, according to Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Linda Rawley.

No deaths were reported as a result of the overdoses. But in each case the person received life-saving measures from emergency medical personnel, Rawley said.

“The recent overdoses indicate that both recreational and regular daily users of heroin are at great risk of death,” Rawley said.

Related story: Heroin, prescription drug arrests, overdoses on the rise

A total of 16 overdose cases have been reported in just the first months of 2015, while 10 total overdoses were reported the previous year–including three deaths–according to records from the police department.

No overdose deaths have been reported this year. The greatest number of overdoses occurred between March and early April, with the most recent spike in overdose calls April 11-12. A total of 19 overdoses, including five overdose deaths, occurred in 2013 and eight occurred in 2012 with no reported deaths.

Members of the police department and the Coastal Horizons Center are warning citizens about the dangers of heroin and the recent spike in overdoses.

“When heroin overdoses are on the rise, it can mean that inexperienced and recreational users are not able to tolerate the strength of the heroin being sold on the streets,” Coastal Horizon Center Vice President of Clinical Services Kenny House said. “The effects can be life-threatening, and those effects can also be further intensified to the point of being even more dangerous with other drugs, including alcohol.”

Even for daily users of heroin, or other similar drugs such as Vicodin and Oxycontin, these overdoses indicate that the risk of death is at a high level, Rawley said. Combining heroin with other drugs, including alcohol, increases the risk for overdose and death.

According to Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Emily Flax, the sheriff’s office has not seen a recent spike in heroin overdoses.

The Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. is a private, nonprofit service delivery corporation servicing eastern North Carolina and Durham in a range of professional services for prevention, crisis intervention, sexual assault victims, criminal justice alternatives, and treatment of substance use and mental health disorders, according to the organization’s website.

For more information about Coastal Horizons Center’s substance abuse programs click here or call Community Outreach at (910) 343-0145. Other contact information and 24-hour access numbers can be found here.

Christina Haley is a crime reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or Christina.h@portcitydaily.com.