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Hoffman's Death Raises Awareness of Heroin Abuse

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The unfortunate death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is raising the awareness of the dangerous addiction, and growing popularity, of heroin. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

When many people think of heroin, perhaps they think of a drug that was popular years ago, but more and more people are ending up addicted to it nowadays.

"With Heroin usage you have a ninety percent chance of a relapse. So individuals are trying to go into recovery and they are trying to change their lives and it is a very hard addiction, it is a battle,” said Carol Slattery of Daytop Outpatient Services.

Across the city and state there are ramped up efforts to shut down heroin distribution.

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has once again put the spotlight on the dangers of heroin.

Just days before he was found dead in his East Village apartment, officers discovered a major heroin mill in the Bronx and seized $8 million worth of the drug. The city's special narcotics prosecutor says there's been an increase in busts over the last five years.

"The purity of that heroin has increased to the degree that it is no longer necessarily being injected, it may be snorted for using it. The user thinking because they are not injecting, they are protecting themselves from addiction and from overdose, but that’s of course not the case,” said Bridget Brennan, a special narcotics prosecutor.

With heroin there's no way to know what strength is being sold on the street. Carol Slattery works at Daytop, a drug rehab facility. She says people addicted to prescription pain killers which are made with opiates are turning to heroin, which is made with the same narcotic.

"When you put it in through a needle, you are getting an immediate intense high at that moment. There is no release that is going to be extended, it is an immediate release right into the vein,” said Slattery.

The U.S. Department of Health estimates 669,000 people tried heroin in 2012, a huge jump from a few years earlier.

Law enforcement and substance abuse experts say heroin use can't be ignored and it impacts all communities.

"We all have to be aware that it’s a very, very significant problem that’s facing this whole area right now,” said Brennan.

So as well as making arrests, there needs to be treatment.

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