Heroin uptick in Mass. sparks national reaction

John Greene says his 19-year-old son, Evan, died five weeks ago from a heroin overdose.

He said his son started using prescription pills when he was 14 or 15 years old and then graduated to heroin.

"Somebody shot him up one time, and he couldn't get off it," Greene said.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey and White House Drug Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske met with local officials, first responders and parents of addicts at the Taunton Central Fire Station on Monday to discuss how to attack the recent surge in heroin overdoses.

"Massachusetts is a leader on this issue," Kerlikowske said.

Kerlikowske said the state's dedication to equipping first responders with the antidote Narcan is a huge step.

Markey said he wants to expand programs and pass legislation to protect families and friends of addicts who have to give the antidote.

"No one should be afraid to save the life of a family member or a loved one," he said.

Former Boston Celtics guard Chris Herren said Narcan saved his life, but that addicts desperately need access to treatment as well.

"What needs to be in place is beds for addicts to land after Narcan has been administered," he said.

Susan Cyr agreed. Her son, Eric, died a month ago.

"I tried to have him sectioned, but they turned me down a week before he died," Cyr said.

Officials reported two heroin overdoses in Taunton on Monday, adding to the more than 60 that had occurred so far this year, including five deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says prescription drug and heroin fatalities in the U.S. surpass homicides and traffic deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.