In the state of Ohio, heroin use has grown to epidemic proportions. For many years, prescription painkillers flooded the streets in Ohio. They were over-prescribed and pushed by pill mills and shady doctors who wrote prescriptions knowing the drugs would be abused or sold for large profits. Government agencies have since curbed much of the illegal activity with prescription painkillers. The government also pushed pharmaceutical companies to create uncrushable pills that could not be used intravenously or snorted.
When an addict becomes addicted to prescription painkillers, tolerance quickly builds. What was once a cheap habit quickly becomes expensive. With the police and government cracking down on pill mills, it's getting harder and more expensive to buy opiate pills on the street. When the cost becomes too expensive and harder to acquire, addicts usually turn from painkillers to cheaper a alternative, heroin. What was once a low class dirty drug, is now becoming the go-to-opiate for many opioid addicts. Many find that heroin is cheaper, more potent and more intoxicating, but it comes with deadly consequences.
Recovering heroin addicts are reaching out and working with addicts to try to lead them in the right direction to sobriety. Larry Soper is a residential manager at Interval Brotherhood Home in Coventry Township, Ohio. It is a facility funded by taxpayer money through the county's Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board. Soper is in charge of about 30 men and nearly all have opiate addictions. Nicole Cunningham is Soper's counterpart for the women's facility. She has an equal 30 females mostly all addicted to opiates as well.
According to Soper, “Opiate users are younger and younger and younger. Before, the users were older, late 20s to 50s. Look at the clients we have now, 19, 20 years old.”
Many years ago, heroin addicts were a small percentage of people in rehabilitation centers. Now, the majority of people in rehabs are opiate addicts and are very young. The movement of pills into suburban communities has brought white, upper-middle class kids into rehabilitation centers with full blown addictions to heroin. These kids had access to plenty of money and were able to purchase the painkillers they enjoyed. Before they knew it, the pill mill crack downs began, and the pills were getting harder to come by. That's when these kids made the deadly switch to heroin and found themselves deeper into their addictions.
The problem with recovery is the amount of centers pushing methadone and suboxone. This has caused a huge black market increase of suboxone on the street. Many addicts are getting dependent on suboxone or methadone and realize pretty quickly that they are in a deep hole. When they try to come off of these drugs and feel withdrawal symptoms, they continue their use. It becomes a lifetime struggle and vicious cycle. Also, with the massive amounts of suboxone on the street, many drug dealers are selling this drug as a way to not go through withdrawals for addicts. When addicts are unable to find their pills or heroin, they can rely on the suboxone as a drug to keep them from going through withdrawals until they find their pills or heroin. It's a vicious cycle that has no end until the user makes the decision to quit and seek treatment.