Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Heroin use on the rise, Loyola toxicologist says

MAYWOOD, Ill. (Feb. 5, 2014) – In the wake of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, Loyola University Health System toxicologist Christina Hantsch, MD, FACEP, FACMT, is available to talk about the rise she has seen in heroin overdoses in recent years.

“I have seen more fatal and near-fatal cases from heroin overdoses compared with other drugs of abuse,” Dr. Hantsch said. “We see the most severe cases in the hospital, so the increase may be indicative of a greater problem in the community."

Dr. Hantsch attributes this increase to regional trends and the fact that the drug is relatively inexpensive and highly addictive. This makes relapsing common as was reportedly the case with Hoffman.

“Those who use heroin can get hooked on the drug the first time they try it,” Dr. Hantsch said. “They also often require increasing amounts over time to get high or to prevent withdrawal."

Heroin can cause respiratory arrest and brain injuries from oxygen deprivation. Emergency medicine physicians and EMS providers have an antidote to counter the effects of the drug, so emergency services should be sought immediately with a suspected overdose.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.