Attorney General Eric Holder released a video statement Monday calling heroin-related deaths an urgent public health crisis. And he's calling for all first responders to carry a drug that can stop an overdose in its tracks.
A local addiction specialist says he's thankful for the spotlight on this growing epidemic.
Jon Daily is the founder of Recovery Happens. He says 15 years ago you couldn't find heroin in Sacramento. But the sharp rise in prescription pain pill abuse has paved the way.
"So it was really easy to see and easy to predict that heroin would be a problem once it made it to our, you know, neighborhood," he said.
Heroin abuse has led to a 45 percent rise in fatal overdoses.
Holder wants Naloxone -- an overdose reversal drug -- in the hands of law enforcement, as well as paramedics.
In Sacramento County, deputies aren't allowed to administer Naloxone. John Rudnicki is a captain with Sac Metro Fire.
"To administer it you have to be a paramedic, and that was a big part of Metro Fire and why we have paramedics on every fire engine and truck," Rudnicki said.
Meanwhile, Daily says it's important we don't confuse saving a life with recovering from addiction.
"The likelihood of them just going out and using heroin again is highly likely. You know, we don't want anyone to die, so it's just a really complicated issue," Daily said.