The heroin addict of the 1980’s-1990’s was of the older teen and young adult. Images of 18-30 year-olds stoned out or lying dead in the alleyways of the nation’s city are now being replaced with the new face of heroin addiction- young children. Children increasingly are coming into contact with illegal drugs. Sadly, this means children who are much younger are becoming addicted to heroin. With the rise of the nationwide opioid epidemic and grossly overprescribed opioid medications, people who become addicted to their opioid medications can turn to illegal drugs once they are no longer able to fulfill the prescription they had been given.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A DRUG ADDICTION?
Drug addiction is a very serious and chronic disease that causes an individual to develop compulsive action involving the seeking and using of powerful substances. The use is in despite of the well-known harmful consequences that follow the user. While our focus is on heroin addiction and the effects it has on individuals, families, and the community, it is also helpful to understand addiction in general.
Fast Facts About Drug Addiction
- The average age for first experimentation with hard drugs is 13 years.
- Over 60 percent ER admissions are somehow related to drug or alcohol usage or abuse
- Parents or older family members who abuse drugs make it more likely that younger family members will follow their example.
- Many drugs, including heroin, lead to death due to the strain it puts on the heart- raising or lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels.
- According to the CDC, in 2011 alone, at least 4,600 people died from a cocaine overdose alone and other drugs have as high or higher death rates.
- Combining multiple drugs together makes the effects exponentially stronger but makes it also much more dangerous and deadly since overdose is much more likely.
- Smoking a drug or injecting it into a vein increases its addictive potential but sniffing and pills are still widely used by many addicts.
Many therapy and treatment options are available and the most important thing for someone fighting a drug addiction is to get help.
Heroin Addiction is on the Rise
“The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 9.5% of youths aged 12 to 17 in the US were current illegal drug users. In 2008, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported that daily marijuana use among college students had doubled, and use of cocaine and heroin was on the rise as well. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2008 an estimated 16 million people worldwide used opiates—opium, morphine, heroin and synthetic opiates” (DrugFreeWorld).
Because heroin can be found today in many forms that are easier to consume and more affordable, the temptation to try heroin is stronger than ever among youth and the number of overdose cases are on the rise. Recent studies show that the number of youth between the ages of 12-18 who have used heroin at some point in their lives has drastically increased by as much as 300% within the last ten years!
The biggest reasons more youth are trying heroin and becoming addicted is because it is presented to them in a way that is not as scary or intimidating as it was a decade ago. A young person might be hesitant to stick a needle in their arm to try heroin but they are more willing to smoke or sniff the same drug because it seem less risky and they are told it is a safer way to have fun and be cool. But this is falsely reassuring and the truth is that heroin in all its forms is dangerous and addictive.
Law Enforcement Needs to be Prepared
While the heroin epidemic rages on, those in law enforcement need to be prepared to deal with overdose deaths and know how to approach this topic and how to help family members deal with the grieving process and how to handle the emergency calls that come in for a overdose.