Over the last couple years heroin use has been on the rise throughout the US. Many experts are now pointing to a variety of factors related to the increase.
Much of this has been caused by the increases of number of those using prescription drugs as a gateway to heroin. In addition to this there are many new young users of heroin who are smoking and snorting the drug instead of injecting it.
The fact remains that heroin is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs in existence.
Who Is Abusing Heroin
In the 70’s and 80’s there was a very definite spike in heroin use across the country. This epidemic was mostly occurring with adults and was viewed by the youth as a very dangerous drug to take. Since the 70’s and 80’s the overall statistics of heroin use have gone down, except for one demographic – teens in this country.
Over the last couple years teen usage rates of heroin have gone up dramatically according to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The study shows that in 1999, the number of people between the ages of 15 and 24 that died from heroin overdose was 198, in 2009, this number jumped to 510.
This sudden increase in heroin usage amongst teens has led to much speculation as to why, with many experts pointing to one specific cause.
More On Painkillers Aiding In Heroin Abuse
Over the past decade, there are two drugs that have seen an unprecedented rise in popularity amongst the youth of this country – marijuana and prescription painkillers. In fact, recent studies show that 1 in 5 high school students have taken prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, Adderall, without a prescription.
Vicodin has been particularly abused, with nearly 10% of 12th-graders having used it in the previous year. About 5.5% said they had used Oxycontin. Both drugs are now more popular among high school seniors than both Ecstasy and cocaine. [Ref: http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/drugs/prescription-drug-abuse-fueling-rise-in-heroin-addiction]
However, as is the case with many different drugs, one can lead to the next, and in this case many people are looking at the prescription painkiller epidemic fueling a rise in heroin abuse amongst teens.
You may be asking yourself why someone would go from a painkiller to a harder illicit drug like heroin? The answer to that could be twofold. First, due to the epidemic of painkiller abuse throughout the US, the government has been cracking down on distribution of painkillers by state. There have been many different methods employed recently that make obtaining prescription painkillers illicitly much more difficult than it used to be. Second, heroin is significantly cheaper than painkillers, which may explain why so many teens that may not have a lot of money are turning to this as an alternative.
For example, one prescription pain pill can cost between $20 to $60 per pill, while heroin costs about $3 to $10 a bag. This large discrepancy in cost could be an explanation for the increase in teen usage and not an overall increase in usage of all age groups; with teens generally having less money and not having any sort of healthcare where they could get these drugs from a doctor.
Drug rehab services organizations state that the problem has continued to be a major issue with new admissions into centers. With treatment it is something that can be handled but with heroin use remaining on the rise, drug rehab services organizations need to make sure that they can handle new and emerging heroin addicts.
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