Heroin is a hot topic in the news as of late. That’s because it’s experiencing a boom in use, adulteration (and therefore altering its potency), and overdose fatalities – all mainly due to states’ crackdown on the prescription painkiller epidemic. Basically, by making painkillers harder to obtain, legislators and law enforcement are forcing the hand of opiate addicts and inadvertently increasing the demand for heroin – a cheaper and more easily accessible version of painkillers.
Heroin and painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, Lortab, and Opana are pretty much kissing cousins on the drug spectrum. Many people think that, because painkillers can be prescribed legally, they are somehow more legitimate, more socially acceptable, and safer than street heroin. This is unfortunately misleading, with dire consequences for the curious and for full-blown opiate addicts.
Painkiller Crackdown and the Heroin ‘Epidemic’
It’s true that, when it comes to potency, pills are a lot more predictable but, this too can lead to consequences such as overdose because, again, as mentioned above, pain pills are deceptively dangerous.
That said, states are targeting the drug problem in their communities and painkillers are in their crosshairs. But, as we’ve seen in places like South Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Vermont, cracking down on the prescription painkiller industry is likely to lead to more blooms of heroin epidemics throughout the country.
Survey and Research on Recreational Painkiller Use
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) surveyed people aged 12 or older, asking questions related to their nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers during the past year. Nonmedical use of prescription painkillers is defined as the use of these drugs without a prescription or with a prescription but the use is not confined to the directions as set forth by the prescribing physician. That is to say, that the user is abusing the prescription painkiller recreationally in order to achieve a ‘high,’ or euphoric feeling from the drug and not merely to manage legitimate pain.
The 10 highest ranking states, with percentage rates between 5.33 and 6.37 include:
|#1. Oregon 6.37%|
|#2. Colorado 6.00%|
|#3. Washington 5.75%|
|#4. Idaho 5.73%|
|#5. Indiana 5.68%|
|#6. Arizona 5.66%|
|#7. Nevada 5.62%|
|#8. Delaware 5.61%|
|#9. Arkansas 5.55%|
|#10. New Mexico 5.45%|
Are these the next states to experience a heroin epidemic?
Are they going to take a page out of the states that have ‘gone before’ and try a different tack?
This is certainly a precarious situation. Many places, such as Vermont, New Jersey, and Ohio, which are seeing an influx in heroin-related crime, overdose, and death are learning as-they-go and trying to quickly play ‘catch-up’ in order to stave off some of the dire consequences to the painkiller crackdown backlash that ushered in the heroin epidemic in their respective states. For instance, Ohio has created a ‘Heroin Unit’ to specifically focus on heroin-related problems that are occurring throughout the state. New Jersey is requiring its first responders to carry Narcan, a heroin antidote, in order to decrease loss-of-life from heroin overdoses. Vermont is planning to increase its treatment resources.
Let’s hope that states planning to tighten legislation on the prescription painkiller industry will simultaneously plan for addressing the foreseeable heroin boom that will inevitably result.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.