What you can do about Heroin Abuse

Preparing Heroin

There was a time that discovering heroin abuse in an ordinary American family was unthinkable. Only jazz musicians or people deep in the slums ever used heroin, or so it was thought. That began to change with the Vietnam War. GIs became accustomed to use of the drug while they were in Asia or saw the chance to make some money by bringing the drug back with them when they came home. This was the beginning of the heroin epidemic in New York City. And this epidemic was the reason the substitute drug methadone was developed as a treatment method for heroin addiction.

Thirty years later, heroin won more territory in this country and that time, it wasn’t drug dealers but doctors who were involved in its expansion. In the 1990s, the medical field began to emphasise pain management. More doctors began to prescribe some of the newer pain medications on the market. As prescriptions for pain relievers soared, more of these drugs found their way to the illicit market. At the same time, many thousands of people who were taking these drugs properly found that they were addicted to them, and needed higher dosages just to keep their pain levels under control. When they were receiving all the pain relievers their doctors would prescribe and still needed more, some of them turned to the illicit market, doctor-shopping (going to more than one doctor to get the pills needed) or prescription fraud to cope.

This firestorm of increasing distribution and increasing abuse finally led to an increase in the abuse of heroin. After all, heroin is chemically almost identical to popular painkillers like OxyContin (oxycodone), Lortab and Vicodin (hydrocodone). Prescription pain medications on the illicit market are far more expensive than heroin. If a person ran out of money, he (or she) could get heroin on the street cheaper.

Then in 2010, pharmaceuticals began to reformulate some of these painkillers so that they could not be abused as easily. Naturally, this sent many people who were dependent on them to their local drug dealers to get heroin. In this manner, heroin arrived in suburban American homes, shocking families who never expected a family member to be addicted to it.

By 2012, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 100 people were dying every day from drug overdoses - with opiates like painkillers and heroin sitting at the top of the list.

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