California’s millennials continue to flood hospital emergency departments because of heroin, a trend that has increased steadily statewide and in Los Angeles and Orange counties over the past five years, according to the latest figures.
The state data released last week show that in the first three months of 2016, 412 adults age 20 to 29 went to emergency departments due to heroin. That’s double the number for the same time period in 2012.
Overall, emergency department visits among heroin users of all ages increased, but the sharpest was among the state’s young adults. About 1,500 emergency department visits by California’s millennials poisoned by heroin were logged in 2015 compared with fewer than 1,000 in 2012.
Emergency responders, those who work in recovery programs, and parents of children addicted to heroin say the figures are unsurprising given the increase in prescription painkiller abuse that likely has led more young people to use heroin.
“One of the unintended consequences of this prescription drug epidemic has been the increase in heroin addiction and overdoses, in part due to the transition from prescription opioids to less expensive heroin street drugs,” according to state health officials. “Heroin deaths have continued to increase steadily by 67 percent since 2006 and account for a growing share of the total opioid-related deaths.”
It’s affected people from many communities, no matter their background, said Dr. Crescenzo Pisano, an internist who specializes in addiction and addiction medicine at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in San Pedro.
Pisano, who has been there since 1984, said he used to see more heroin users from the harbor areas. No more.
“The high school athlete to the kid next door. It’s no longer people from the seedy side of town,” Pisano said.