WASHINGTON - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling the increase in heroin-related deaths an "urgent public health crisis" and says first responders should carry with them drugs to reverse the effects of an overdose.
In a video message released Monday by the Justice Department, Holder says addiction to opiates and heroin is affecting Americans in all states and from "every background and walk of life."
The attorney general says the number of heroin overdose deaths rose by 45 percent from 2006 to 2010. He says federal law enforcement is working to address the problem but more work is needed on education, prevention and treatment.
He encourages first responders to carry with them the drug naxolone, which can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose if administered quickly.