Prescription narcotic abuse in the US over the last 10 years has skyrocketed. The use and abuse of prescription drugs is viewed differently by most people than abuse of the so-called “street drugs.” It is more socially acceptable to take prescription opioid medications than, say, heroin. It is thought that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs because their manufacture is regulated. Also, there is a false sense of safety because a doctor prescribes these medications. Many also mistakenly think that prescription drug abuse is not illegal, or carries a less severe penalty than abuse of street drugs.
Opiate Addicts Now Turning To Heroin: A different class of heroin user
In recent years, there has been a widespread crackdown on doctors who prescribe these medications and pharmacies that dispense them. Prescription pills are not as easy to get as they once were, and a prescription pill addiction can be very expensive, with pills costing up to a dollar per milligram. By contrast, heroin in New Jersey can go for as low as $50 dollars a bundle (approximately one gram). When someone becomes hooked, it can become difficult for them to afford the pills. Heroin is a much cheaper alternative.
Opiate addicts now turning to heroin has created a whole new class of heroin user. Heroin is no longer regulated to the inner cities. The impression most people have of heroin is outdated. The face of heroin isn’t thugs on street corners, peddling to junkies. These days a heroin user is more likely to be your average American suburban teenager. Teens are abusing prescription drugs and heroin at an alarming rate. In recent news, Jon Bon Jovi’s 19 year old daughter overdosed on heroin.
Many of the new heroin users come from neighborhoods of resources and affluence. Where there is employment, there is health insurance and young people are able to get prescription medications from doctors. Heroin comes in when they’ve run out of resources.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services administration (SAMHSA), introductions to heroin have increased 80 percent among 12- to 17-year-olds in the last ten years. Fatal overdoses among teens have more than doubled in the same time span.
Opiate Addicts Now Turning To Heroin: OxyContin
Ever since the popular painkiller OxyContin was reformulated to make it more difficult for abusers to crush and snort or inject, many opiate addicts are turning to heroin instead. Highly addictive OxyContin shot to popularity in the last decade, mostly in rural parts of the eastern United States. Before the release of OxyContin, all formulations of oxycodone contained an NSAID, which limited its potential for abuse. When OxyContin was released, abusers realized that they could crush the pill to release pure oxycodone (up to 80mg in one pill), which allowed larger doses and by additional routes of administrations such as intravenous and intranasal. Due to the widespread abuse, especially in rural areas, OxyContin came to be known as “Hillbilly Heroin.” When manufacturers changed the formulation, many abusers of “Hillbilly Heroin” began using actual heroin instead.
The crackdown on prescription pills opened a whole new market for heroin dealers. With the rise of prescription drug addiction and the subsequent regulations on the pills, heroin dealers realized they were facing an untapped pool of customers desperate for cheaper opiates.
If your loved one is in need of heroin addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.