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The Growing Epidemic From Opiate Pain Pills to Heroin

A growing trend in the US amongst opiate addicts is the transition from prescription pain pills to heroin. Many people who abuse prescription pain killers see their tolerance levels building fast. They need more of the pain killers to achieve the  “high” they are looking for.   As time goes on, the body desires more and more as the tolerance levels climb. This becomes a huge financial burden for the abuser. In most places in the United States, the going rate is around $1 per mg. A 30mg immediate release oxycodone pill can sell for $25 to $30!  The majority of addicts I have talked with have a tolerance of 200mgs to 350mgs per day. That can equate to a habit which costs $200 to $300 and even more 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 very common because of the cheaper price. 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. Heroin can purchased for as little as $5 per bag, which may get the user just as high. An addict who was spending $200 per day can now achieve the same “high” for a lot less than what they were spending previously.

This is raising red flags in law enforcement and hospitals nationwide. As the heroin addiction and sales rise, more and more addicts are overdosing. Heroin on the street is normally “cut” (or mixed) with dangerous additives to help extend the supply and make more money for the drug dealers.  This puts the addict at an even higher risk. An addict can never tell what the potency of their heroin is, as it could vary from location, dealer, even from bag to bag. When an addict is used to using a certain amount of heroin but injects or snorts the same amount of stronger or more concentrated form, this could easily lead to an overdose.

The numbers of overdoses from opiates has gradually increased from 1999 to 2010, the last year statistics were taken by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In 1999, 4,030 deaths were associated with opiates. In 2010, the number 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, become addicted, and continue their downward spiral, the more they will search for cheaper alternatives.

In years past, heroin abusers were looked at as low-income, inner city individuals. But the reality is that heroin addicts have many faces. Someone who has a good job and looks like they have their life in order may be addicted. This epidemic is not subject to any age, race, or sex...it is affecting people from all walks of life. The problem is rising and the numbers of overdoses are climbing all across the US.  From small towns to large cities, the public needs to be more educated on the opiate epidemic.  Starting from a young age, our youth needs to be informed of the serious dangers of abusing prescription pain medications, and those who are addicted need to seek treatment to help stop their addiction.


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