Should there be Tougher Laws for Heroin Users

The Tragic Loss of Mike Starr to Opiate AddictionHeroin is one of America’s most dangerous drugs. Used to support an addiction habit and as a substitute for pain killers, heroin has gained popularity across the nation. Drug trafficking has become an epidemic in the streets and penalties in various states are less than enough to deter dealers from drug activity. Relaxed trafficking laws have increased heroin sightings and boosted the number of addicts in various states.

People have turned to heroin for a number of reasons. The inexpensive availability makes it an affordable substitute for those who cannot afford the spike in prescription medications, especially for people who need opiates. Heroin addicts have reported that it consumes their lives. It becomes the focal point of their existence. “Where am I going to get another hit,” is the first thing on their minds. They are often cut off from friends and family, and are left to spend their days with other addicts. They are isolated and run their lives into the ground. Some turn to trafficking to keep up their habit.

Illicit drugs have cost the country billions in expenses. Health care for illicit drugs, including drug treatment programs, emergency visits, and transport have run up to $11 billion in 2013, according to a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Overall, illicit drugs have cost the country $193 billion, the same amount as tobacco.

Kentucky Cracks Down

State officials in Kentucky have announced their support in making laws for heroin traffickers stricter, a response to a growing number of heroin users in the state. Kentucky had one of the harshest laws for drug traffickers until 2011, when the legislation passed a corrections reform law that lowered the penalty for traffickers. What used to be a Class C Felony, a crime punishable with a five to ten year sentence – became a Class D felony. Only 20 percent of the prison time needed to be served before the offender is eligible for parole. The law resulted in an increase of heroin use starting in Northern Kentucky and bleeding into the rest of the state.

“We’ve been dealing with this problem historically for about three or four years, just slowly creeping into our communities,” said Linda Tally Smith, an attorney for Boone County Commonwealth. Smith called heroin the worst drug she had dealt with in all of her 19 years of prosecuting. But that is about to change with the new laws. According to the proposal by Kentucky State Senator John Schickel, heroin traffickers will now be charged with a first degree felony if they knowingly sold any quantity of heroin. Officials understand that there will be a differentiation between people who sell heroin for profit and those who sell to keep up their habits, but they hope that the stricter laws will encourage abstinence or drive traffickers out of Kentucky.

Seeking Help for Heroin Addiction

Like many illicit drugs, heroin stimulated the reward system of the body and creates good feelings upon ingestion. Long-term use of heroin can cause the collapse of veins, a degradation of the health and immune system (usually due to the drug user’s neglecting their own health), and liver damage. Addicts have been known to share needles with others, increasing the risk of blood borne diseases like Hepatitis, AIDS, and Tuberculosis. Most drug users do not realize they have a problem and will make excuses for themselves in order to keep up their habit. A recent video from Narconon outlines this interviewing addicts’ whose drug of choice was heroin [see video here].

If you know someone who is suffering from a heroin addiction or a substance addiction in general, do not hesitate to find them help. Loved ones are often the saving grace of a substance abuser. Narconon is a drug rehabilitation center with where 70% of graduate live drug abstinent lives (based on outcome studies as well as staff and client reviews). Visit narconon.org to learn more about Narconon and their global rehabilitation centers.

References:

Cincinnati.com – http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20131202/NEWS0103/312020055?nclick_check=1

National Institute on Drug Abuse – http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics

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