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Heroin Use Not Just A City Problem Anymore

It is the same story I hear on a daily basis. Speaking with addicts for over 5 years now, I listen to addicts stories and their current situations. They want so badly to get clean but are not sure what steps to take. The issue for 99% of heroin addicts is the same. They started out by taking prescription painkillers. This either began from a legit prescription from a doctor or by recreationally taking them for a good time. The dosage started out small and to them it was innocent fun. They never dreamed of it turning into an addiction and certainly never expected to become a heroin addict.  The reality of the matter is that abusing prescription painkillers leads directly to heroin abuse. Painkillers are the new gateway drug and for millions of people in the United States, it has become a living nightmare.

Heroin addiction used to be a problem accustomed to only big cities and very rural areas. That is not the case any more. In fact, in many suburban areas, the amount of overdoses compared to the population is much higher than in big cities. Why is this happening? It is happening because of the over-prescribing of painkillers and their amazing ability to latch onto a person after just one use. If you ask an addict they will tell you that the pills and heroin are everywhere. It is not hard to find these drugs because the popularity has brought mass amounts of pills and heroin into every town across the country. When the demand is there, dealers will be there to profit from the opiate epidemic.

Heroin use among young adults ages 18 to 25 has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2012, 156,000 people tried heroin for the first time, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The agency has called that statistic “unacceptably high.” It has almost doubled since 2006.  Heroin is no longer a drug used primarily by the poor in inner cities. It has become a cheap high for young, white suburbanites. Many of them became addicted while raiding their parent's medicine cabinets in high school and using and selling the pills at school, which is a very common way for teens to get addicted. Most parents do not realize that they have very dangerous substances sitting in their cabinets. Whether it is Percocet from a root canal or Vicodin from a sore back. These medications go unused and sit in the cabinet waiting to be taken by young teenagers.

Education about opiates is starting to spread to more schools around the country.  It's bringing awareness to parents to lock up their medications or even better, bringing them to a designated prescription pill drop off area usually run by law enforcement or health departments where the medications are disposed of properly.

Heroin has made it's impact known in the suburbs. In my home town of Toms River (Ocean County, NJ), heroin is such a major issue that they created task forces, hold regular town hall meetings monthly to educate and have a designated area in the newspaper strictly for information and stories related to heroin or prescription painkillers. If education is not the number one priority in these suburbs, the numbers of heroin overdoses will continue to climb and that is a sad reality.

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