Gone are the days where the “typical” drug addict is on the street shooting heroin in a back alley. The face of opiate addiction is one that has no boundaries. You walk past, talk to, and see opiate addicts everyday of your life. They look like you and me and there is no way to tell if they are addicted or not. Whether they are blue collar or white collar, it does not matter. Opiate addiction traps the abuser quickly and turns their world upside down. What may have started with a legit prescription from a doctor can quickly turn that person into a heroin addict. That may sound extreme but that is becoming the typical scenario. Many unlikely groups of addicts are starting to become mainstream.
The number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs is the highest it has ever been. In the past 10 years, the number of teens abusing prescription painkillers has surpassed the number abusing cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined. The latest Partnership Attitude study shows that the rate of prescription drug abuse by teens is holding steady at a hefty 17 percent. 17 percent of high school students are raiding medicine cabinets at home or friends homes for their recreational enjoyment. This is a serious problem due to the lack of education in this age group that leads to the abuse. If you ask the average teen what is more dangerous, heroin or painkillers, many wouldn't even put painkillers in the same category as heroin. This misconception is killing our youth and creating drug addicts who will eventually "gateway" to heroin. Teaching our teens about painkillers will put a dent in the heroin overdose deaths. The number of children who have died from drug poisoning has also increased more than 80 percent, largely due to prescription drug abuse, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another group that has a high amount of abuse is stressed out, middle class mothers. Mothers have a lot on their plate. The constant pressure to be the picture perfect mother, carry a successful career and be the main caretaker is draining to many mothers. To help with the amazing amount of stress they face, many turn to abusing prescription painkillers for either the energy or the euphoric feeling. It gives them a feeling of warmth and happiness. Statistics show that more than 18 million women ages 26 and older have reported using prescription medication for unintended uses in 2008. This was almost a million more than the previous year. It usually starts out with legitimate prescriptions for a medical condition or injury and they quickly become dependent without even realizing it. When a mother is taking care of young children, the children need constant supervision and attention. Mothers can not take a day off to go through withdrawals and this fear of being sick and unable to care for their kids typically gives them a reason to put off getting clean.
The typical drug addict no longer exists. With the surge and popularity of prescription medications and a society that expects to be written a prescription every time they go to the doctors has created a country full of drug dependent people. Hopefully more education will help to get the opiate epidemic under control.