Why Heroin Continues to be a Problem in the US

guy wearing hoodMost drug news these days seems to be focused on how wonderful it is that marijuana has been legalized in two US states. Very little is said in the news about the continuing problem of marijuana addiction and the increased abuse by kids under 18 years old.

Sometimes forgotten in all this is the fact that the other addictive drugs are still out there and are being abused daily. In particular, heroin addiction and abuse still rears its ugly head throughout society.

Heroin is Still Here

Heroin abuse was thought to have peaked in the ’50s and ’60s. With newer drugs coming along over the years, like ecstasy and meth, heroin seems to have been pushed into the background, with more attention put on the newer drugs. But heroin never went away!

At the Police Executive Research Forum’s National Summit held recently in Washington, law enforcement officials talked about increased abuse of heroin and other opiate type drugs. Local and federal officials said the surge, especially in heroin’s availability and purity, is having stunningly lethal consequences. It’s also now cheaper than stolen opiate prescription type drugs, costing from about $4 a bag in some places to $20 in others, making it the cheaper choice for addicts and abusers.

In New York City, there were 730 drug overdose deaths in 2012 – with half of those estimated to be related to heroin and prescription opiates. This was nearly double the number of homicides.

Separately, a soon-to-be released National Drug Threat Assessment rated heroin as the second-greatest drug risk, after the abuse of meth. Between 2009 and 2013, according to that assessment from the government’s National Drug Intelligence Center, heroin seizures increased 87%. The average size of those seizures increased 81% during the same time.

Officials Caught by Surprise

Government officials seemed to have been taken by surprise with the increased heroin problems. “This kind of sneaked up on us,” said U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder. FBI Director James Comey told the group that, “Every place I’ve visited, I’ve heard about heroin,” referring to recent visits to 25 FBI field divisions. Also, police officials from smaller towns talked about how their towns have been inundated with heroin. In Burlington, Vt., a town of just over 42,000 people, the police chief said that it is no longer unusual to find 10,000 bags per heroin seizure.

Solutions

Regardless of which individual drug is currently the hot topic in the news, the focus must be kept on the fact that all drugs are dangerous when abused. One definition of “drug” is “poison” – in other words, if you take too much of a drug, it can kill you. Hopefully, the fact that marijuana was legalized in two states does not lead people to think that there is less of a problem with addiction and abuse of other drugs.

Attention must be kept on anti-drug education, particularly with younger kids. Some people may feel that young kids should not be exposed to the horrors of drug addiction and abuse. But elementary school is not too soon to start educating them! Drug abuse has been documented with some elementary school aged kids. You might say, “Oh, that can’t happen here! My kids go to a good school.” Sorry, wrong. It does happen everywhere, from all social and economic levels of our society.

Those that are currently addicted must be helped as well. They must be gotten through effective rehab programs, with proven track records. Rehab programs that get addicts off drugs, and keep them off drugs.

References:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/16/heroin-overdose-addiction-threat/7785549/

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