Heroin Epidemic Gaining White Worry

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In Philadelphia last spring, a man riding a city bus at rush hour injected heroin into his hand, in full view of other passengers, including one who captured the scene on video.

In Cincinnati, a woman died in January after she and her husband overdosed in their baby’s room at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The husband was found unconscious with a gun in his pocket, a syringe in his arm and needles strewn around the sink.

Here in Cambridge a few years ago, after several people overdosed in the bathrooms of a historic church, church officials reluctantly closed the bathrooms to the public.

“We weren’t medically equipped or educated to handle overdoses, and we were desperately afraid we were going to have something happen that was way out of our reach,” said the Rev. Joseph O. Robinson, rector of the church, Christ Church Cambridge.

Drug deaths have surged in nearly every U.S. county, reaching a new peak in 2014.

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“Users need the fix as quickly as they can get it,” said Edward James Walsh, chief of police in Taunton, Mass., a city 40 miles south of here that has been plagued with heroin overdoses in recent years. “The physical and psychological need is so great for an addict that they will use it at the earliest opportunity.”


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