Prescription Drugs Such as Opiates Have Been the Craze but Cost and Availability are Fueling the Switch to Heroin
Opiates have been used in one form or another since before recorded history when humans discovered the poppy plant’s euphoric effects. Although prescription drugs such as opiates have been the craze for decades, cost and availability are now fueling the switch to heroin, which is easily and cheaply found on the illicit scene. As prescription drug prices continue to rise, the heroin addiction statistics will also continue to rise, rapidly becoming a social and economic problem of unimaginable proportions.
The high costs of prescription drugs has been driven even higher due to the 6.8 million people who abuse these drugs. They have created a boom in the black-market. This demand coupled with the federal drug crackdown has forced prices up. For instance, one oxycodone pill costs approximately $30, while a dose of heroin costs around $5 to $10. That difference in price has been enough to cause the number of heroin abusers to double between 2007 and 2012. There are currently over 669,000 people who admit to using heroin.
The Facts Expose a Grim Scenario
As more and more addicts switch from prescription opiates to heroin, the dangers of overdose and death are increased exponentially. Those who do survive will find that they are spending $150 to $200 a day, or more, to fund their habit. Where will that money come from? Very few people today make that amount of money, so they will resort to stealing, selling belongings, borrowing, prostitution, dealing, or any other method they can come up with to get the money they need. Here are some shocking heroin addiction facts that reveal the seriousness of this issue:
- Over 14% of people entering rehab admit heroin is their drug of choice.
- Almost one out of three high school seniors admit that heroin is easy to obtain.
- Over 80% of heroin users are younger than 26.
- Men are more likely to abuse heroin than are women.
- 3.8 million people admit to having tried heroin.
- Over 600,000 people need heroin addiction treatment.
- Of those being treated for hepatitis, 80% are intravenous drug users.
We don’t want or need these numbers to continue escalating. The best way to help lower the statistics is for everyone to be informed and aware of the signs of heroin addiction and hopefully convince the users to seek help before it’s too late.
How to Know if Someone is Using or Addicted to Heroin
First, it is important to know what heroin looks like. The purest form comes as a fine, white powder, although it can also be gray, brown, or black depending on the additives used to dilute it such as sugar or caffeine or other products.
Knowing how heroin is ingested can also play a key role in detecting the presence of heroin abuse. Some of the methods for ingesting the plant include drinking it in a tea, chewing, smoking, snorting, or injecting it. Most users prefer injecting the drug, so they will often try to cover up the tell-tale track marks on their body such as sores, bruising, scars, and collapsed veins. Other physical signs to look for include sudden weight changes, poor hygiene, pale skin, poor appetite, changes in sleep patterns and declining health.
Most heroin users display changes in personality, becoming moody, agitated, depressed and withdrawn. Of course, these behaviors aren’t always a result of heroin use, but they can be a red-flag to pay attention to if drug abuse is suspected.
What the Heroin User Goes Through
Hundreds of heroin addiction stories can be found online that portray the absolute misery a person endures while under the influence of heroin. Many users admit to becoming addicted after only one use. Some addicts express that they honestly want to quit, but the cravings are so intense they have no choice but to continue using. They feel cut off from the rest of the world. They have lost everything they owned. Some of them describe living on the streets and being raped, beaten, hungry, sick, and arrested. They confess to thinking death was right at their door and there was no way to escape.
In addition to the above, a heroin addict must also deal with the side effects of the drug itself. After the initial rush wears off the person becomes drowsy and may experience decreased heart rate and slowed respiration. Within a few hours the effects have faded and heroin withdrawal symptoms become noticeable. These short-term effects can include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Cloudy-headed feeling, poor mental functioning
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Sedation, drowsiness
The long-term heroin addiction symptoms can range from arthritis, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases to coma and death. Opioid painkillers were the most commonly found drug in the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the US, accounting for 38.2% of these deaths, with heroin and morphine involved in over half of the accidental drug deaths nationwide.
Can a Person Overcome Heroin Addiction?
Heroin addiction can be treated and controlled with the right approach. Anyone seeking this type of treatment should do some research to determine if a facility has adequate expertise in treating this addiction specifically as it is one of the most difficult to overcome. A long-term, residential facility is highly recommended because they offer a safe, supportive environment that allows the individual to relax and focus all their energy on healing. All activities and courses are designed to address specific factors that played a role in the addiction, while also instilling an improved sense of self-esteem and a set of skills the person can rely on once they complete treatment and enter the outside world again.
There are a wide range of treatment approaches such as traditional, holistic, faith-based and Indigenous/Native American programs. Depending on the person’s needs, physical health, preferences and financial status, there is a program for any contingency. There is a need for caution when it comes to choosing a program that relies on drugs such as methadone as part of the treatment process. Many addicts have learned that they basically traded their opiate addiction for a methadone addiction, so this might not be the best course of treatment to consider.
Another effective aspect of treatment for heroin addiction is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy helps patients to recognize and avoid situations where they may be tempted to use heroin. CBT lasts only 16 weeks at most, which is a relatively short period when compared to other forms of therapy. The fact that it can be effectively implemented in a relatively short time makes it attractive for use alongside other forms of therapy. Additionally, this therapy is flexible enough to be used on a wide range of patients.
Regardless of which treatment program a person enters, it is important that they plan ahead for an aftercare program. These programs provide a range of services from job placement, sober-living homes, assistance with legal issues and many more. Their most important function is to provide continuing counseling, support, and guidance during the patient’s transition back into society. An aftercare program is a crucial component of relapse prevention.
Heroin Addiction Makes You a Prisoner in Your Own Body
No one actually chooses to become an addict, even though he or she willingly tried a drug knowing the potential dangers, the intention was just to try it this one time for fun. With some substances, a person could possibly succeed in just giving it a try and never touch it again. Heroin, however, can become addictive after only one use, and then one more innocent victim becomes hostage, held prisoner in their own body by the power of the drug. Every semblance of who he or she once was becomes a fuzzy memory, and now their only purpose in life is to remain as a vessel that must be fueled by heroin.
When the cravings are intense, it is difficult to consider going through detox and rehab, so most addicts avoid treatment due to their fear of withdrawals. If he or she could think rationally, it would be obvious that the dangers of continuing to use heroin are far more frightening than anything that could happen during detox. For this reason, friends and family members should conduct an intervention, hosted by a professional, to convince the addict to get into treatment before it is too late. Treatment works, but the person has got to want to escape the prison of addiction and fight for their right to a happy, drug-free life.
Thinking About Treatment is a Good Thing but Doing It is Even Better
The rising cost of prescription drugs has had a big impact on the number of heroin addictions today, but there are also increasing numbers of effective treatment facilities opening nationwide. There is no reason for anyone not getting the help they need. Most addicts think about getting treatment, and they really do want to be free from this addiction, but the time has come to stop thinking about and it and get busy actually doing it. The situation will only continue to get worse if action is not taken soon. For help choosing a facility for heroin addiction treatment, give us a call now.