WASHINGTON (March 10, 2014) Attorney General Eric Holder Monday called the increase in heroin-related deaths an "urgent public health crisis" and said first responders should carry an antidote with them to reverse the effects of an overdose.
In a video message released Monday, Holder said addiction to opiates and heroin is affecting Americans from "every background and walk of life."
The attorney general said the number of heroin overdose deaths rose by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010.
Federal law enforcement is working to address the problem, he said, but more work is needed on education and prevention.
He also encouraged first responders to carry the drug naloxone, which can reverse a heroin overdose if administered quickly.
At least 17 states and the District of Columbia allow naloxone to be distributed to the public.