The number of deaths from unintentional heroin overdoses in New York last year was the highest in a decade, according to data released last week by the city's health officials.
The figures reflect a pair of national epidemics operating in tandem. There is a surge in heroin use across the United States, which has been accompanied by a larger epidemic, with drugs such as oxycodone and hydrocodone responsible for the majority of unintentional overdoses involving pharmaceutical drugs.
The number of heroin overdose deaths has risen each year since 2010. The number more than doubled last year from 2010, up from 209 to 420.
As has been the case for years, overdoses are highest among white residents, but have soared among Hispanic residents.
Another troubling trend was the increase in overdoses among younger New Yorkers.
The biggest increase in heroin overdoses was among people between 15 and 34, although the 35 to 54 group still had the highest rate. Also, 94 per cent of overdoses involved more than one substance.
As part of the push to combat deaths from heroin and opioids, nearly 20,000 police in New York are being equipped with naloxone, a drug that treats overdoses by reversing extremely slow breathing.
Other police departments across the country are also preparing to train first responders with naloxone.