How Heroin Became Small Town America’s Largest Epidemic

small town AmericaHow does a drug epidemic start? Curiosity, boredom, confusion; a lifetime of the “same old thing” and a desire to branch out, spread the wings, be a rebel. Peer pressure – everyone else is doing it, so why not, right? Many parents spend a great deal of time explaining the dangers of drugs to their kids, what to look for in dangerous neighborhoods, which corners to stay away from, but they do not teach their children how to pick their friends or give them a healthy alternative to boredom. As a result, teenagers mixing with the wrong crowds can get into some terrible, life altering situations. A drug addiction is one of those choices.

Peter was an ordinary teenager living in a small town. Back in the early ‘90s, Westminster, Maryland. The predominantly white, middle-class town held a population of almost 140,000 and stood just outside of Baltimore. He was just a kid, wanting to live the big, fancy life when he became an adult. Bored and eager for an adventure, Peter and his friends cruised the streets and made one of the worst decisions in their lives.

They hopped in the car and went to Baltimore, looking for an adventure their small, sheltered lives could not give them. There, they found a drug dealer who gave them cocaine. At least they thought they had bought cocaine. It was not until after they had already taken some that they realized they had actually bought heroin. A strong, powder form of heroin that could be snorted. It was inexpensive, easy to use, and the kind of adventure the boys were looking for.

There were tens of teenagers just like Peter in the small town – bored kids looking for a good time. The emergency rooms in the county, many of which had never seen a heroin problem before, were seeing as many as fifteen per month. The now small town problem has stretched to the middle-class small neighborhoods across the country. Communities have come together to battle against a problem that has been stretching across the country. In the small community of Carroll County, Maryland, there were at least 20 deaths from overdose. The call for parents to be more involved in their teen’s lives has arrived. The need is desperate and will only get worse as long as parents put on blinders to their children’s lives.

How Heroin Affects the Body

Law enforcement officials report that about 70 percent of people arrested are in jail due to drug-related offenses. The lifestyle of an addict is not pleasant. Due to how the drug affects the body and brain, drug addicts have less rational judgment than those who do not smoke. Heroin causes a release of dopamine in the body, like most psychoactives. Dopamine is related to pleasure feelings. When a person experiences a pleasurable event, their bodies release dopamine that cycles from the brain to the sense and back. Heroin freezes the return and as a result more dopamine is release, but the brain does not receive the dopamine back. This causes an overstimulation and leads to addiction. Once the person comes down from the high, the body is dragged lower than where they were before taking the drug. Because of the properties of the opioid heroin, drugs like it have been used in prescriptions as painkillers (such as Oxycodone and Vicodin). Unfortunately, the rise in prescription prices forced those who were not as well-off to find a substitute, and heroin fit their purposes and paychecks.

So where do children get their fix? Teenagers old enough to drive can obviously get them from a dealer, but many others get them from classmates or in their own homes. Most of the teenage drug addiction starts from their own medicine cabinets. As parents, it is important to understand that the drugs prescribed for adults are not meant to be consumed by children. Keep prescriptions in a safe place and limit the exposure to harmful substances. It might save countless lives.

Reference:

ABC News – http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=132668

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