Addiction is not a sophisticated human impulse. It knows nothing of who you are, your standing in life, your triumphs or your failures. Addiction is not something that you can only catch by hanging in the slummy part of town or hanging out with the wrong people. More and more commonly, heroin is becoming a white collar drug epidemic, and hitting communities not normally associated with hardcore street drugs.
The Gateway to Heroin
One of the most common causes for heroin addiction is gateway drugs and substituting heroin for those gateway drugs for one reason or another. It’s argued by pro-narcotics groups that the concept of gateway drugs is overblown or used as scare tactics by schools and parents. The truth, though, is that drugs like marijuana and prescription pain medications have a direct link to heroin usage.
Marijuana is becoming more and more highly concentrated (in a field that’s unregulated for quality and safety standards) with the potent THC chemicals that get people high. Some people have even gone from smoking pot to ingesting pure THC to get more intense and destructive highs. When marijuana just isn’t cutting it anymore, or in reality, when the body has built up a tolerance to the drug, people will often look for a drug that will give them the initial kick that pot did the first time. The next step is often heroin for these people.
The other, potentially even more dangerous, gateway drug for heroin is prescription pain medications. Prescribed for a number of ailments and injuries, prescription painkillers are incredibly strong numbing agents that help people function through pain. There’s plenty of merit to these drugs when they’re used properly and per doctor orders, but these painkillers can easily become addictive. The body gets used to the numb feeling, or patients get used to the painkiller’s effects due to the chronic pain they’re experiencing, and the patient becomes reliant on these drugs. Often the high price of these drugs will empty an addict’s wallet, which will make the lower price of heroin look like an alternative to their pain medications.
Heroin in Unexpected Places
Understanding the paths that lead to heroin are important in understanding why seemingly well-to-do and upstanding people are falling into the grips of heroin addiction. Parents, school teachers, wall street traders, executives, no matter the net worth or social standing of the person, anyone that gets hurt could possibly become addicted to pain medications if prescribed. Once on heavy prescriptions, it’s not hard to eventually turn to heroin to replace the high from the pain medications. That’s why heroin is starting to find its way into sleepy but rich suburbs as well as upscale cities.
A perfect example is the story of a mother and former school teacher that became a heroin addict in a seemingly safe community. Michelle came from a good family and moved to Putnam County, N.Y. as a child to be raised in a good environment. Unfortunately, she turned to alcohol and OxyContin to cover for what she felt were her social deficiencies. When the OxyContin prices got to be too much for her at $50 a pill, a boyfriend of Michelle’s introduced her to heroin. From the first time she used heroin, she was hooked. Michelle became fully under the influence of the drug as she would get high before classes or in between classes in the bathroom.
The thought of teachers succumbing to heroin is scary in its own right, but it’s just the beginning of the problem. Heroin is becoming a more commonly used drug in more social circles. Children are getting introduced to heroin at younger and younger ages. If the heroin epidemic isn’t handled properly, it’s only going to do more harm and claim more upstanding people as addicts.
Today.com – Hooked: A teacher’s addiction and the new face of heroin – http://www.today.com/health/hooked-teachers-addiction-new-face-heroin-2D79496263
DrugAbuse.gov – Statistics and Trends – http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/heroin
Voicenews.com – Prescription pills and pot labeled ‘gateway’ to heroin – http://www.voicenews.com/articles/2014/04/13/news/doc534834cdcc5a6227603304.txt?viewmode=fullstory