Palm Beach Post Profiles Those Lost To The Heroin Drug Epidemic

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Pictured above: Nancy B. Noonan, 57, who died on Feb. 10, 2015, and Michael C. Valerio, 22, who died on May 3, 2015.

Palm Beach Post Profiles Those Lost To The Heroin Drug Epidemic

“Daniel Byrd was a voracious reader, frequenting libraries in both West Palm Beach and Collier County. He was a raconteur, a teller of tales, who undeniably lit up every room with his sunny disposition.”

Daniel died on January 18, 2015 from a heroin overdose at the age of 53.

This entry, like so many others at the The Palm Beach Post’s Heroin: Killer of a Generation project, is a grim reminder that the drug epidemic is not affecting just users – it’s affecting everyone they know and love. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released its overdose death figures for 2015, revealing more than 33,000 died from heroin- and opioid-related causes.

But those are just numbers. At The Palm Beach Post site, we see faces, names, and profiles. These were people, just like anyone else. They had friends, families, and lives – all tragically taken away by an accidental drug overdose.

The first overdose in 2015 occurred just after midnight on New Year’s Day. It was Gregory Gartside, 35, or Boca Raton. That year, another 215 would die in a similar manner in Palm Beach County. Heroin, fentanyl, and morphine caused the deaths of more people in the county than traffic accidents or homicides.

According to The Palm Beach Post, in Florida in 2010, every 2 days a person with heroin poisoning would end up at an emergency room. That number increased to one every 90 minutes by the end of 2015. Just heroin alone.

According to data gathered from medical examiners, in 2015, heroin, fentanyl and morphine caused the deaths of 2,333 Floridians. That number may be even higher for 2016.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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