01 Aug From Knee Injury to Heroin? How?
Why do many people addicted to heroin share a similar story? Many people I know suffered an injury, then were prescribed pain pills, and eventually graduated to cheap street heroin. How does this happen?
Heroin has a history in the United States that dates back to 1874, when it was first imported from Germany and marketed as a safe and non-addictive substitute for morphine. The drug has seen a steady rise in use in the U.S. since that time, and in the most recent decade, heroin use has risen almost exponentially. According to a report released in 2013 by the CDC, heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, with use of the drug increasing by 63% during that period. (For reference, the overdose rate in 2013 was 2.7 deaths for every 100,000 people, or just over 8,000 deaths.) Dr. Christopher M. Jones, senior adviser at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and co-author of the report, added in the report, “Over the past decade, we have found a significant increase in heroin use across almost all demographic groups.” Even groups that historically had lower rates of use, such as women and non-hispanic whites, saw a major increase in use.
What is causing this rapid rise in heroin use in the United States, exactly? Here is a look at a few key contributing factors to the rapid rise of heroin use in the United States.
Ties to prescription opioid abuse
The CDC pointed out clear ties to opioid addiction in the United States. Opiates, opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl, and heroin are related, after all; all of them are either derived directly from opium or are synthetically produced to mimic the effects of drugs that are derived from opium. These drugs are often abused and used recreationally for their euphoric effects. Be careful what doctors say about prescriptions. Not all doctors understand the costs of addiction.
Low cost of heroin
Be careful. The CDC also pointed out that heroin is much cheaper than prescription opioids in the United States. CDC director Tom Frieden has explained, “the cost of heroin is roughly five times less than prescription opioids on the streets.” So with prescription opioid addiction rates climbing higher and higher, it makes sense that some, if not many, of these individuals who are addicted to opioids would make the switch on heroin in order to save on cost.
Increased supply of heroin
Increased supply of heroin in the United States also seems to be part of the problem. For one, it can make for lower cost, but it also means that there is increased access to heroin. According to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment issued by the DEA, heroin supply had increased since 2008 in virtually every region of the country, with most of the heroin supply coming from Mexico and Columbia.
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