A growing trend in every community in the United States is the transition from prescription pain pills to heroin. Many people who abuse prescription painkillers see themselves needing more of the painkillers to achieve the euphoric “high”. As time goes on, the body desires more and more opiates as tolerance builds. An opiate addiction can be a huge financial burden for the abuser. In most places in the United States, a 30mg immediate release Oxycodone pill can sell for up to $30 each. The majority of addicts I speak to have a tolerance of 200 mgs per day. That can equate to a habit which costs over $200 per day!
The high price of prescription pain pills has led many addicts to switch to heroin. The transition from pain pills to heroin is becoming very common. The addict does not feel a noticeable difference between the two as far as the “high” is concerned. Where they do feel the difference is in their wallet. As documented in local newspapers, heroin can be purchased for as little as $5 per bag. An addict who was spending $200 per day can now achieve the same “high” for less than quarter of the price they were spending previously.
Heroin abuse is raising red flags in law enforcement and hospitals nationwide. As heroin production and sales increase, more and more addicts are overdosing. Heroin on the street is “cut” (or mixed) with dangerous additives and puts the addict at an even higher risk for overdose. An addict can never tell what the potency of their heroin is. When an addict is used to using a certain amount of heroin but injects or snorts the same amount of bags that are more potent, that can easily lead to an overdose.
The numbers of overdoses from opiates has gradually increased from 1999 to 2010, (2010 being the last year statistics were taken by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention). In 1999, 4,000 deaths were associated with opiates. In 2010, the number has drastically increased to 16,651. The popularity of opiates in The United States is something that is at epidemic proportions. As more and more teens and young adults experiment with pain pills, more will become addicted, and continue their downward spiral until they make the switch to the cheaper alternative, heroin.
In years past, heroin abusers were looked at as low-income, inner city "junkies". The reality is that heroin addicts now have many faces. Someone who has a good job and looks like they have their life in order may be an addict. This epidemic is not subject to any age, race, or sex. It is affecting people from all over the country in all social and economic classes. The problem is rising and with the number of overdoses climbing, the public needs to be more educated on the problem. Starting from a young age, our youth needs to be informed of the serious dangers of abusing prescription painkillers. We all need to do our part in making a change. This epidemic is affecting us all. Lots of crimes are linked to the addiction of drugs and as the issue becomes larger, it puts us all in danger.