The World of Unlikely Heroin Abuse in Suburbia

When most people think about heroin abusers, they may picture uneducated individuals living in extreme poverty and committing criminal acts. It’s true that fifty years ago a typical heroin addict was an impoverished teenaged boy living in the inner city and attempting to escape the real world through drug use, but nowadays the typical heroin addict is something else entirely – a middle-class, young, suburban individual whose journey into drug use began with the legal use of prescription narcotics.

The Shocking Rise of Opioid Use and Abuse

Heroin is a member of the opioid family of drug substances – chemicals that quickly move into the user’s brain and block opioid receptors that communicate pain as well as stimulate the production of neurotransmitters involved in the processes of pleasure and reward. When an individual becomes addicted to opioids, they are often driven to continue obtaining and using these substances no matter their destructive effects. It is for this reason that legal prescription narcotic use can sometimes lead into heroin use and abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that there are between twenty-six and thirty-six million individuals abusing opioid drugs worldwide. This includes both prescription narcotics and illicit opioids like heroin. What is especially alarming about this trend, however, is the fact that individuals who are suffering from opioid abuse and addiction problems are often coworkers, neighbors and friends who are managing to completely hide and live with a very dark secret.

Opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet are normally prescribed in cases of severe or chronic pain, such as post-surgery back pain or cancer. It is important to note that just as is the case with other drug substances, opioid painkillers cannot actually resolve the cause or source of the individual’s pain, but simply interrupt the body’s ability to communicate that pain. However, the individual experiences much needed relief, and so feels that these painkillers are helpful. Unfortunately, because opioids move so rapidly into the brain and produce such marked changes there, they can quickly become tolerated and depended upon, driving the individual to increase the amount they take, and then even look for alternative, less-expensive solutions to continue using opioids. One such solution is to switch to heroin, which is considerably cheaper than most legally-obtained opioid painkillers. And this is precisely what many individuals do – move from the casual and legal use of prescription medication into the extremely dangerous and illegal use of heroin.

Hiding Heroin Addiction

While the individual himself may feel that his entire life is falling apart at the seams thanks to his heroin addiction problems, they are often able to hide their addiction problems quite convincingly from others around them, including their own family members and friends. Unfortunately, the individual is usually fighting a terrible battle – a battle between the desire to reach out and get the help they desperately need and want in order to bring an end to their addiction problems, and the desire to continue hiding their problems due to the guilt, shame and embarrassment they constantly feel. They may feel worthless, depressed and miserable, and the fact is that while they may be able to hide their problems for some time, there will likely come a point where their life completely spirals out of control. This is when they will become most dangerous to self and others.

Resolving the Problem

The best way to resolve heroin abuse and addiction problems is, of course, to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Because of the slippery path from prescription narcotic use into heroin use and abuse, it is very important that individuals who are prescribed these medications get lots of information from their doctor beforehand. Some of the information they need includes learning what other, non-narcotic pain treatment options they have, what the lowest effective dose is, and how quickly they can be moved off narcotic medications. It is an individual’s right and responsibility to learn about these dangerous medications and make the choice that will best protect them from drug abuse and addiction problems in the future.

Comments are closed.