In the 1960’s and 70’s a heroin epidemic gripped the inner city of America. At the time African-American communities were most affected. Other drugs have come in and out of vogue such as cocaine and crack in the 80’s, heroin, meth, and ecstasy in the 90’s, and MDMA (Molly), synthetic marijuana, and heroin once again in the 2000s. But today, the modern epidemic is mostly affecting middle and working class white America in the suburbs and rural communities. Most of those addicted to heroin today are in their early 20’s. They usually start recreationally. Someone swipes a bottle of opioid painkillers, most notably OxyContin from someone’s medicine cabinet. Others take Percocet with booze to increase their buzz. But then they start snorting, smoking, or shooting OxyContin to get a stronger high. Then they get hooked. Since these are prescription medications, many in this age group do not see these drugs as dangerous. Prescription opioids are hard to come by and expensive. The modern day variety too is also abuse-proof. These pills cannot be crushed and snorted, smoked, or shot. So users ultimately switch to heroin which is readily available, and inexpensive.
Most of these 20-somethings drop out of school and cannot hold down a job. They consistently lie, and have stolen all they can to support their addiction. For those who have been hurt by someone who has such a problem, know that it is not them who hurt you. It is their disease. You wouldn’t blame someone with cancer or schizophrenia if their symptoms impacted you. But just as in those cases, a medical professional is required to treat the problem effectively, here the addict must receive holistic treatment from a reputable provider. According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Americans no matter their coverage situation have access to treatment. Today, medically assisted rehabilitation including the drugs methadone, Suboxone or Naltrexone are available for a carefully planned, medically assisted recovery that can limit the discomfort of withdrawal. This along with individual and group therapy can give the person the tools they need to remain sober and overcome triggers that could cause a relapse. If someone in your life has a heroin addiction, contact a treatment facility near you to see they get the help they need.