America’s Heroin Epidemic

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Introduction

I currently work for an upscale rehabilitation website. Writing blogs about what you’d expect. However, there was one topic of discussion that caught my interest. I figured I should talk about it here.

It may or may not come as a surprise that America is currently facing a heroin epidemic. I wouldn’t have believed this myself if I hadn’t seen it first hand a couple of years ago.

It started with a friend’s cousin who was addicted. He came off as an unlikely victim due to his family’s wealth. Yet, no one denied this cousin had a drug problem. He’d steal money, consistently lie, and often leave for long periods of time. As soon as my friend began making decisions for himself, he fell victim too.

For some reason, this didn’t strike me as anything odd. I had hung around the two while they were doped out (an East Coast term for being high on heroin) as if it was nothing out of the ordinary. The sad truth I had yet to understand was that this was becoming the ordinary. At least for people like me who found themselves in the local drug scene.

This all ended as poorly as you’d expect. My friend overdosed in his house. The cousin was with him and gave CPR which miraculously saved his life. Authorities were called and he was safely hospitalized.

Since this point, I have constructed my own opinions on the matter that I’d like to discuss here.

The Epidemic

For a long while, heroin was only a problem of low-income areas. As we know, the War on Drugs attempted to put an end to the trafficking of opium. Yet, what we’re seeing now is the depressant has somehow, someway crept its way into middle and upper-class areas.

More luxurious drug treatment centers (such as the one I work for) are simply proof that substance addiction is growing enough to become profitable. For the smugglers and the rehabilitation facilities. Hell, even I’m making money off this crisis.

The statistics America is seeing are only more unforgiving.  In 2000, the Northeast of the United States saw a little under 100,000 people annually overdosing from heroin. By 2013, that number had reached 400,00. An over 250% increase.

These numbers are prominent all throughout America, the Northeast and even parts of the South are seeing the biggest increase in heroin usage. And a large sum of those numbers are preferable to white ethnicity between the ages of 18 and 25.

I guess the ultimate question is why heroin? And why now? Numbers will assure the facts, but before we find an explanation, there’s no way of diminishing these numbers.

An interesting fact. Many researchers on the subject are led to believe that doctors across the country are over prescribing opioid-related drugs (such as oxycontin). This inevitably is causing more people to become addicted to opium. Therefore, when the prescription runs out, they seek to satisfy their needs on the streets.

I, for the matter, am not claiming to have any drastic explanation. However, these statistics occupy my age group and childhood home.

The Problem

I found myself involved in my local drug scene after trying marijuana. It was hard to avoid considering the good majority of those who smoked pot were also taking other drugs. I don’t think weed is a gateway drug in itself, but situations as such are only fueling the stigma.

Inevitably, heroin began appearing from secret avenues. This first came to me as a surprise considering the white privileged suburbia I come from. But soon enough, as I mentioned in the introduction, I wasn’t overlooking the matter. I had figured it was always around and I hadn’t known about it.

However, then heroin began making an appearance in my high school (which, at the time, I was out of). I knew the kids in there were getting high on psychedelics like LSD and pharmaceutical medication. But when I found out heroin had made its mark, I became uncertain over what was really happening.

These teens were entering rehabilitation facilities. The school’s administration had started taking stricter authority over drug use on school grounds. And people like my friend were falling dead.

The question of why heroin and why no began interplaying in my head. But the question was taken one step further.

Why these kids in white suburbia?

My Explanation

I have had a discussion of this matter with the friend who had overdosed. As much as he hated to admit it, part of the reason he injected heroin was to feel “cool”. I guess this sort of mindset runs through all of us while we’re young. Yet, people have the right to question why kids think heroin is cool?

Like I said, I was a part of the drug scene and people were taking all sorts of shit. So, if one kid is uneducated enough to think heroin is cool, it doesn’t come to me as a surprise that other uneducated kids will follow. And as we know, heroin is highly addictive. Therefore, trying it once to see how cool it is could lead to the necessity for it.

Then another topic sprung up that I wasn’t expecting. At the time my friend had tried heroin, he confesses that he wasn’t doing much with himself. We were fresh out of high school, he had a half-assed job at a local fast-food joint, and in his free time, he was getting high and mostly playing video games.

Being that we were so young and mindlessly curious for new experiences, we were participating in a lot of ignorant activities just to sustain our boredom. As my friend believes, he tried heroin because he was bored with himself and all the other drugs he had tried. He also believes this is why other kids in the area continue to do it.

My explanation is simple. The youth thinks that in taking drugs is cool (or they’re just overly interested in the experiences it has to offer) and have no idea what else to do with their time. Therefore, they decide to just try heroin. Get a quick taste of the substance. Then the majority end up addicted.

Conclusion

If we want to stop this heroin epidemic, I believe we need to educate the youth in a way that doesn’t make opium sound so dangerous. Though it is, what’s commonly referred to as “cool” is a backlash from what authority ever so threatens to be a nuisance. And drugs, in general, have always been at the top of that list.

If we continue to make heroin seem as though it’s a large threat, people will only be more curious to figure it out for themselves. This is very comparative to cigarettes. And if you think about it, when a young person doesn’t fully accept the consequences to a drug like heroin, they’re going to overlook the danger that comes with it.

Naturally, this idea is spreading and will only continue to spread. That is unless our education on the matter switches gears.

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