On March 16, the bodies of 36-year old Brian and 34-year-old Courtney Halye were discovered on the bedroom floor of their suburban Ohio home by their four children after they failed to awakened for school. A coroner has listed the preliminary cause of death as being consistent with a heroin or fentanyl overdose.
Courtney’s 13-year-old son told the 911 operator, “I just woke up and my two parents are on the floor. My sister said they’re not waking up. They’re not breathing … They were very cold.” He also told the operator his father was “pale” with black lines over his face.
According to WLWT, Centerville police officer John Davis said narcotics paraphernalia was found on the scene.
Brian, 36, who was a pilot for Spirit Airlines, and Courtney, 34, each had two children from previous relationships.
Davis blamed the deaths on the opioid epidemic in the U.S.
“This knows no demographic,” he told NBC News. “It doesn’t matter how much you make or where you live or how educated you are. It crosses every line, and that’s probably what’s most frustrating. It is an unfortunate reality in the world we live in right now. I can’t put it into words. It’s hard to imagine as a parent, as a police officer, as just a person. It’s just hard to comprehend.”
Formerly a problem associated with impoverished inner city areas, the demographics of opioid addiction have changed dramatically. In the last decade, almost 90 percent of first-time heroin users are white, most of whom are either middle class or wealthy, The New York Times reported.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services summarizes the problem:
Our nation is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids — including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin– nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
The HHS also reports that on an average day in the U.S., more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions are written, and some 3,900 people start taking prescription opioids for nonmedical reasons. Also on a typical day, 580 people initiate heroin use, and 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose.
A final statistic by the same government agency serves to put the epidemic into full perspective. “In 2014, more than 240 million prescriptions were written for prescription opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.”