Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Heroin Overdoses: Hype Or Actual Pending SD Epidemic?

Centers for Disease Control

The Centers for Disease Control describe heroin related deaths as an epidemic in the United States, and some officials have raised concerns South Dakota is about to see a spike in heroin and prescription opioid overdoses.

But, data from the State Department of Health shows that over the last decade heroin overdoses are almost non-existent in South Dakota.   

 And while prescription drug abuse is a concern the numbers of opioid overdose deaths are smaller than other drugs like meth or alcohol.

South Dakota Department of Health data shows that in 2013 no one died from a heroin overdose, there was one heroin death in 2014.  In contrast the state saw over 140 deaths from alcohol poisoning that same year.

Some officials express concern that prescription opioids, like oxy-cotton have seen a more recent increase in overdose deaths.   Dr. Susan Karol the Chief Medical officer at the Indian Health Service worries opioid overdoses are on the rise, and that even those living in rural America should prepare.  

 “The IHS and BIA are on the frontlines of response to opioid addiction in some of the most remote communities in the country.  Our clinicians have many tools available to mitigate harm from prescription and illicit opioid misuse and to prevent opioid use disorder including mandatory prescription physician education, prescriber education and out pain management policy and best practices,”  says Karol.      

The IHS has announced a new effort to combat overdoses, it parallels some statewide efforts in South Dakota. Ambulance operators across the state and IHS medical personnel across the country are starting to carry naloxone, it’s a drug that can keep a heroin overdose from killing a patient.  Officials say hopefully, it won’t see much use.