Heroin addiction has become a nationwide epidemic. The highly addictive opioid drug causes a powerful physical and mental chemical dependence and has devastating effects on the user. The rates of heroin users have drastically increased among both men and women, young adults, and across all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. The alarming rates of heroin users and heroin-related overdose deaths have raised national attention and an urgency to address this mental health issue.
In June of 2016, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a National Heroin Threat Assessment Summary warning of the increasing rates of heroin use and its detrimental effects on users. According to the DEA, the number of heroin use has tripled from 161,000 in 2007 to 435,000 in 2014. From 2010 to 2014, deaths from heroin have also tripled from 3,036 to 10,574. This astounding rate has echoed to all parts of the United States including rural towns, suburban neighborhoods, and urban centers. Today, each day’s news seems to report on parents and grandparents overdosing while caring for their children and grandchildren. It is an epidemic with deadly consequences.
Chuck Rosenberg, The DEA Acting Administrator, stated “We tend to overuse words such as ‘unprecedented’ and ‘horrific,’ but the death and destruction connected to heroin and opioids is indeed unprecedented and horrific.” From local, state, and federal levels, the government has no choice but to respond to a rising epidemic of heroin related deaths.
Reasons for the Resurgence
There are two main reasons why heroin addiction has drastically increased in the past couple of years; opioid prescription painkillers have become easily accessible and the price of heroin is cheaper than other drugs.
The CDC notes that people who are addicted to opioid prescription painkillers, such OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet, are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin. Additionally, heroin users are more likely to also be addicted to other destructive substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.
Because of its declining price and accessibility, young adult users have doubled in the past decade. From 2002 to 2013, young adult users, ages 12 and older, have increased from 277,000 in 2002 to 526,000 in 2013. Young adults may revert to using heroin as a coping mechanism to stressors in their environments or in social settings.
A Nation Responding
With the alarming rates of overdose deaths and younger users, federal, state, and local governments have been responding to the alarming epidemic. The federal government is implementing stricter guidelines on access to opioid prescription drugs and creating a monitoring program of prescription drug use. Many heroin users initially get addicted to the drug after being prescribed opioid painkillers and, therefore, medical clinics are tightening their prescription procedures.
Simultaneously, state and local governments are working with police departments and treatment centers to get heroin drug users to seek early treatment and avoid dependence on the drug. The National Seizure System data set has shown that the surge of heroin use is evident in communities all across the United States. There has been an 80 percent increase in heroin seizures in the past five years, from 3,733 kilograms in 2011 to 6,722 kilograms in 2015. Law enforcement is closely working with the local government, community members, medical clinics, and treatment centers to find solutions to stop the resurgence of heroin addiction.
The heroin epidemic is ripping apart families and creating unnecessary crime and health issues in communities all across the United States. Seeking early treatment for heroin addiction is arguably the most essential step towards finding an end to the heroin epidemic. Seeking treatment can provide heroin users with coping mechanisms, individual and group therapy sessions, and a closer connection to community in their everyday lives. Finding the right treatment program will help heroin users learn to establish purpose beyond their addiction and create meaning to live a more productive and healthful life.
Covenant Hills Treatment Center offers a Christian-based approach to help anyone recover from heroin addiction. The professionally trained staff include pastors, therapists, and counselors who are dedicated in providing the spiritual support needed to fully recover from heroin addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin or other drug or alcohol addictions, call Covenant Hills treatment specialists today at 800.662.2873 for a free and confidential assessment.