It’s no secret that the drug epidemic in America is rising, most notably in the form of heroin use. Heroin has been an addictive drug for a long time, and the number of people using heroin has increased in this country, particularly in areas like Palm Beach. Also, there are many factors that make heroin a very addictive yet accessible drug. Looking towards the future, we can only hope that there will be an end to this life-threatening heroin epidemic.
The heroin epidemic is currently out of control. It has a definite hold on our country. From 2002 to 2013, overdoses from heroin rates have quadrupled. Because of this increase in heroin overdosing, it has been termed as an epidemic.
Why Do People Get Addicted to Heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug. Therefore, there are many ways that an individual can take heroin: smoking it through a water pipe, injecting it directly into the blood stream, snorting the powder form through the nose, or inhaling it. This drug binds to the opioid receptors found in your brain’s nerve cells. This reduces the perception of pain.
Heroin is readily available on the streets at a reasonable price. Many people have a higher chance of switching to heroin when they are addicted to prescription painkillers. Around 4 out of 5 people begin with prescribed painkillers before they begin using heroin. The fact is that heroin is cheaper and easier to get. A dose of heroin costs around $9 a dose while one 80 mg pill of OxyContin costs about $100 on the streets.
Opioid overdoses are the number one cause of accidental deaths in America. From 2013-2014, opioid overdoses have risen by 14%. To put that into perspective, someone dies from an opioid overdose every 19 minutes.
It would be wrong to assume that a specific type of person is more prone to becoming addicted to heroin then others. You may think that low income, uneducated, and younger people are more prone to succumbing to a heroin addiction, but that is not the case. Heroin affects men and women of all income levels and most age groups. Heroin does not discriminate. It will take whatever user it can grip onto.
What is Being Done About the Heroin Epidemic?
In 2011, Barrack Obama declared funding towards opioid overdoses and finding out how to decrease the number of individuals addicted to the drugs. For 2017, an allocated $1.1 billion is going towards fighting this epidemic. The areas most affected by heroin overdoses are expanding enforcement to get opiates off the streets. 20 states have put a law into place called the Good Samaritan Fatal Overdose Prevention Law. This law encourages individuals to get medical help for their addictions while promising no drug charges and exempting them from arrest and prosecution. It is designed to provide immunity so addicts can get help instead of getting arrested. Police officials have also changed the way they view addicts. Instead of arresting people, they are now offering help to addicts.
Education is also being offered to encourage young adults to not start on a path of addiction. For years, there has been a stigma about heroin users that keeps people from talking about it and addressing the issues. We can prevent overdoses and prevent someone from overdosing on heroin by informing the population about the drug and what to do in case of an overdose. We can communicate to our children the importance of drug refusal. And we can properly educate parents, teachers, and other community leaders to be aware of drugs and the destruction they cause.
The Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education Program (NOPE) allows for people everywhere to be more informed on the reality of addiction. Police officers who have seen firsthand what addiction looks like give real life stories to youth everywhere. The program reaches out to middle schools and high schools. Children are taught what drugs are, how they affect the body, and the emotional tolls they take on a person and their family.
What Are Other Countries Doing to Prevent the Use of Opioids?
Other countries like Vancouver, British Columbia, have implemented safe injecting facilities. These facilities provide heroin abusers with clean needles, guided doses, and injections. Also, by implementing these safe injecting facilities, the deaths from overdosing have declined by 35%. If America were to implement these same types of institutes, we can expect to see a decline in heroin overdosing and get more people the help they need.
The single most important role is to keep people alive. If we can prevent individuals from overdosing on heroin, we can take control of the situation. The long term effects of this would be a decline in heroin selling, more individuals seeking help, and a guided heroin use to prevent overdose.
The heroin epidemic is controlling our country in more ways than one. Looking towards the future, we can only hope to see the epidemic of heroin users decline. One way we can prevent heroin users is by preventing the initial use of opioids. Remember, 4 out of 5 individuals begin with prescribed painkillers and the addiction manifests from there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has initiated a new prescribed opioid guideline. This states that opiates are not to be used as the first line of pain prevention. Doctors are now only allowed to prescribe a specific amount and type of painkiller drug to the public.
What Can We Expect for the Future?
America is headed in the right direction when it comes to diminishing the heroin epidemic. Educating people on the dangers of drug use at an early age is a great move forward. Informing the population that recovery works and that as long as you come forward to get help, you will not be penalized by the law is also a great step forward.
Many opioid users who recognize that they need help seek it at sober living houses and treatment facilities. However, we need more treatment facilities. Although these sober living houses and rehab facilities do exist, they are not always readily available to the general public in terms of quality.
It is vital that opioid addicts get the treatment they they need for recovery . If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please contact us today. Don’t be another statistic. It’s not easy to seek help, but it’s easier than living with a heroin addiction. We are here to help you live a better life.