While heroin seemed to have faded into the background in recent years, it has continued to be widely abused drug. The drug gained popularity and publicity in the 60’s, but seemed to be replaced, at least in the eyes of the media, in the 70’s and 80’s by cocaine.
In the last couple of years, however, it has seen a major upswing in heroin addiction, with emergency rooms seeing more cases of overdose, and with hospitals seeing more babies born addicted.
Not only that, but the demographics have changed as well, challenging many of the previously held stereotypes of what a heroin user looks like, and where they are from.
Opiates in general have seen a surge in abuse. In recent years, prescription pain medications have become a huge problem. While they have always had the potential for abuse, the last decade has seen almost an epidemic problem of opiate addiction among people from all walks of life.
Part of the problem has been overprescribing and poor recordkeeping and communication practices. Up until recently, a person could go into the emergency room, get a prescription for Vicodin or Norco, go to a different emergency room a couple days later, get another prescription, then go to their doctor for yet another one. “Doctor shopping” had become an easy way to get a good supply of opiate pain medication for personal use, or for sale or trade.
Perhaps the ease of obtaining pills contributed to the problem, along with the lack of stigma. After all, it’s just medication, right?
Either way, prescription opiates became a problem of epidemic proportions across the United States as well as other countries. No one was immune from this very serious addiction. Teenagers were trying pills at parties instead of alcohol and pot — or in addition to. Housewives, professionals, nurses and doctors, you name it. The elderly were also becoming addicted to overprescribed pain medications.
Eventually, the problem reached a point where it was decided to take action. Regulations were put in place to ensure that it would be more difficult to doctor shop. Health care professionals became more conservative in prescribing pain medication. The makers of drugs like oxycodone began developing pills that are harder to abuse.
While this development was certainly a step in the right direction, it failed to address the current problem — hundreds of thousands of people who are addicted to opiates — right now.
For many people who find themselves addicted to prescription medications such as Vicodin, Norco, Oxycontin, etc. the idea of using heroin may seem unacceptable. After all, it is an illegal drug. Junkies use heroin, right?
The problem is that when things tightened up in the prescription drug world, pills became harder to get, and more expensive. When faced with not being able to get the Oxy’s or other pills, addicted people ended up turning to the cheaper, easier to get heroin.
The reality is that addiction to pills and addiction to heroin is the very same thing. Opiates are opiates, and if you have become dependent on them, you will get sick if you stop abruptly. The side effects, symptoms and withdrawals are bad no matter which you choose.
However, heroin addiction comes with added risks. Although heroin can be snorted, it is most often injected. It is also more easily tampered with, and it isn’t always easy to gauge quality or purity. Because of this, overdose can be more common.
Intravenous drug use poses its own risks, with Hepatitis C and HIV very real risks. Because heroin is an illicit drug, there is often more risk involved with obtaining it.
It is common for people with a heroin addiction to be in denial about the problem. If someone you love has a heroin addiction, it is important to take action immediately. The longer a person abuses heroin, the more likely they are to experience a fatal overdose or contract HIV or Hepatitis C.
If your loved one is in denial about their heroin addiction, an intervention is the answer. Interventions work, with 90% of interventions resulting in the person getting help.
The interventionist will work closely with you and your family to help your loved one get the help that they need. Once you make the call, the process starts and you will have the support you need. Addiction affects the whole family, and an intervention can begin the healing process.
If you are concerned about your loved one’s drug use, call Intervention Services, Inc. to talk to someone today. Your intervention specialist will help you every step of the way. Call 877-478-4621 to speak with someone today.