The nation’s heroin epidemic found its way from the shadows of America to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as lawmakers and experts struggled with a raging disease that is leaving an increasing number of bodies behind.
Heroin deaths have almost tripled since 2010, Louis J. Milione, a Drug Enforcement Administration deputy assistant administrator, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. “Today’s heroin at the retail level costs less and is more potent than the heroin that DEA encountered two decades ago,” he said.
The surge in overdose deaths is one reason Congress now is examining heroin addiction. Another reason is the complexion of the addicted.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who has seen the effects of drug abuse in his Madison Park neighborhood in West Baltimore, pointed to the difference in the way heroin addiction is dealt with now compared with years ago.
The difference between a war on drugs and drug treatment is like the difference between black and white.