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Heroin Addiction: The Role of the Media And The Shift Towards Treatment

Once upon a time, prescription painkillers like OxyContin were the drug of choice when it came to substance abuse and addiction; and while these opiates have continued to plague the country, attention is slowly but surely shifting towards Heroin, a substance that is far easier and cheaper to acquire, at least when compared to opiates like Percocet and the considerable regulations that currently surrounds their use.

While only 9% of the people admitted to treatment programs in 2013 were seeking help for OxyContin and Vicodin abuse, the number of people seeking heroin addiction treatment grew from 15% to 19% in that same year (this figure was 3% in 2003), providing credence to the claims made by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) that the number of Americans struggling with heroin addiction is growing.

Even with all the hullaballoo surrounding the drastic increase in opiate addiction today, the fact that so many people are now getting treatment is a sign of the changing times.

As Kana Enomoto, SAMHSA’s acting administrator has insisted on numerous occasions, the right addiction treatment administered at the right time can save lives, helping those individuals devastated by substance abuse to regain a semblance of normalcy.

The Role of the Media

The Media cannot be accused of overlooking the scourge of heroin addiction or the abuse of other opiates over the years. However, they can be faulted for emphasizing the criminal aspect of this issue even while largely ignoring the matter of treatment.

As a Study in the Psychiatric Services Journal determined, nearly 70% of all stories about substance abuse in the news focus on the law enforcement element, this as opposed to only 42% discussing prevention efforts. The fact that only 3% broached the issue of treatment options and expansion shows a worrying trend.

As Emma Mcginty, a lead researcher on the study explained, while it is hardly surprising that news outlets would choose to emphasize those more salacious facets of opiate addiction, the fact that coverage is yet to truly shift to a public health and behavioral health approach to this issue is disturbing.

The Shift Towards Treatment

As Enomoto emphasized, treatment is an effective tool for fighting addiction. However, people can only seek treatment if they are educated about the existence of treatment options.

Of course, substance addiction treatment options are not always available, especially to patients in rural areas. Even with this relative scarcity of treatment centers and programs, if someone close to you is struggling with opiate or heroin addiction, you are encouraged to do everything possible to connect them with the necessary treatment services.

Even in the remotest of areas, you can always find an out-of-town drug rehabilitation center if you expand your search. In fact, sometimes you might be better off traveling far from home to seek treatment.

Not only can you finally escape the stressors at your home, but separating from old friends and drug dealers is much easier. The effort and financial burdens of seeking treatment are well worth it to overcome the scourge of addiction.

Getting Started

There is no rational reason to postpone treatment for opiate addiction. Every new day might be the last day, and every new dose could become an overdose. Seek treatment for your opiate or heroin addiction before it destroys your relationships, health, and financial future.


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