In over 5 years of being clean from opiates, I have lost many friends to overdoses. They were engulfed in the life of addiction and many of them knew the dangers but could not stop. We used to use together and talk all the time about wanting to stop and get clean. The major problem was never getting fed up enough to do it. There is a misconception that addicts love to get high and they do it for enjoyment. This is not true at all, many use the drugs in order to function.
Even after a short amount of time, someone can easily become addicted to opiates. It usually grabs a hold of a person before they even realize that they are addicted. They simply do not have the drug one day and get sick as a dog and can not control their craving. I have spoken to many people who didn't even know what withdrawal was. They just thought they were sick until they started to do some research.
The most common problem for an opiate addict is the "graduation" from prescription painkillers to heroin because heroin is much cheaper. With prescription painkillers, you know exactly what the potency is every time you use the drug. This makes it very easy to keep your use controlled. Even though it is easier to monitor your use, it does not mean that overdose does not happen. In fact, it's happening at epidemic proportions. What makes abusing heroin more dangerous is the fact that the drug is not regulated. There are obviously no standards for the heroin that is sold on the street. Potency changes from bag to bag and since the demand is so high on the street, many dealers are coming in to sell product. When you have high demand and a lot of competition, dealers will do whatever they can to make their drug more potent.
If you watch the news you will most likely hear about reported batches of heroin that are causing overdose deaths. Many drug dealers mix their heroin with other drugs to make them more potent. These batches are usually cut with a strong opiate powder known as Fentanyl. Fentanyl is drug that is 90 times the strength of morphine and packs a powerful punch easily causing an overdose. Someone who has a particular habit can not gauge this drug because the potency is dramatically different compared to what they are used to making it very deadly.
Professionals in the fields of healthcare and law enforcement are scrambling to come up with new plans to help curb the abuse. If you do a simple search on the internet for “heroin epidemic,” it is easy to see that the drug has no boundaries. Every large city and small town has written about the effects this drugs has had on it's community. These drugs have taken over thousands of peoples lives with no end in site. Our society needs to make some drastic changes or we will see even higher numbers of deaths per year.