It is no secret that opiate abuse had spread like wildfire across the United States. Every town large and small are being affected by this epidemic. One of the main culprits of this issue is the misuse of prescription painkillers. Opiate based pain pills are a hot commodity and worth outrageous amounts of money on the black market. For this reason, many addicts and dealers will take desperate measures to get their hands on these pills. Pharmacy robberies have skyrocketed over the past few years as addicts and dealers are desperate to get these medications. With pill mills being shut down at rapid rates, and governments setting up systems to curb doctor shopping, opiate pills are becoming more expensive on the black market.
Many local governments have made the prescription painkiller epidemic a main topic of concern. With our nations youth overdosing at alarming rates, politicians have stepped in to do what they can to help curb the abuse. Making it harder for addicts to get their hands of painkillers is causing another drug to climb in its use: Heroin. Heroin has become the go-to drug for addicts addicted to opiates. When painkillers become hard to get, or too expensive, the next logical step for an opiate addict is heroin. The price may be cheaper, but it comes at a steep price.
Opiate addiction is extremely dangerous and very hard to quit. Addicts will do almost anything in order to obtain their pills so that they do not go through withdrawals. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable and feel like a horrible case of the flu along with extreme depression and anxiety. Though many addicts want to quit, the addiction is just too strong.
Many addicts would admit they would have never used heroin when they became addicted to painkillers. They know the dangers of heroin, yet over time their tolerance to opiate pills climbs. As tolerance builds, addicts need more pills to feel "normal". The problem is that the pills are expensive, and an opiate addict may consume 10-20 pills a day easily putting their addiction at a couple of hundred dollars per day. When money runs out, withdrawals set in, many addicts become desperate. This is when many addicts make the transition from pills to heroin. Heroin in my home state of New Jersey is at it's cheapest price ever. In some places selling as little as 5 dollars per bag. This may be enough for an addict to get the same high they were when they were taking multiple expensive pain pills. When an opiate addict see's prices that small compared to $80 per pill they quickly make the switch.
The problem with heroin is that it's more dangerous than prescription painkillers, because every batch of heroin varies in quality. Both heroin and pain pills are extremely dangerous when abused but what makes heroin more dangerous is its origin. When an addict buys heroin, they have no idea what it is cut with or how potent the dose is. These things change from bag to bag. Using heroin is like playing Russian roulette. You never know how potent or dangerous the batch of heroin is, which can easily lead to overdose and death. Curbing the use of prescription painkillers is great and desperately needed, but we as a society can not be blind to the effects it will have on heroin use.