The United States is currently experiencing a national heroin epidemic. The CDC reports that part of this epidemic is linked to the higher costs and stricter controls on prescription drugs. Many chronic pain sufferers have limited incomes and are finding it difficult or impossible to afford their pain medications. For this reason, they turn to the streets where a cheaper alternative is available, which is heroin. Heroin is the go-to drug for thousands of people who are addicted to illegal prescription drugs, as well.
The link between prescription drugs and heroin is not surprising given that so many prescriptions are written daily. For instance, over 4,065,175,000 prescriptions were filled in retail establishments in 2015. Can you even imagine how many pills or how much money that represents? Far too many of those pills end up in the hands of people who wish to use them for the euphoric effects only. Eventually, they need more and more of them to get the same effects. When they run out of pills and money is limited, they turn to heroin.
Unfortunately, switching to heroin is a dangerous choice due to the lack of controls on the purity of the substance. To put it another way, street dealers often lace their products with dangerous chemicals in an effort to enhance profits. An unsuspecting user has no idea what they are ingesting when they purchase this type of product.
How Widespread is the Heroin Epidemic?
In the United States today, the leading cause of accidental deaths is drug overdose. For instance, reports from the CDC show the following facts:
- In 2014, there were 47,055 drug overdoses.
- Of those, 18,893 were related to prescription pain relievers.
- More than 10,500 of those deaths were related to heroin.
Certainly, with these figures in mind, we have to ask what is being done to bring these numbers down. Some efforts currently underway include such things as:
- National Recovery Month
- National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week
- PEERx – NIDA for Teens
- Drugs and Health Blog
- Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day
- NIDA TV
Many more similar initiatives and organizations work hard to spread awareness about the dangers of addictive substances. More information is available at any of these websites.
Its also interesting to note that our government is taking action to combat the heroin epidemic and how it links to prescription drug addiction. Here is a sample of the latest proclamation by President Obama regarding this situation in our nation:
PRESCRIPTION OPIOID AND HEROIN EPIDEMIC AWARENESS WEEK, 2016
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
States and localities across our country, in collaboration with Federal and national partners, are working together to address this issue through innovative partnerships between public safety and public health professionals. The Federal Government is bolstering efforts to expand treatment and opioid abuse prevention activities, and we are working alongside law enforcement to help get more people into treatment instead of jail.
My Administration is steadfast in its commitment to reduce overdose deaths and get more Americans the help they need. That is why I continue to call on the Congress to provide $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment services for opioid use disorder.
Understanding the link between prescription painkillers and heroin addiction is just the beginning of a national effort to bring healing and recovery to millions of addicted individuals. If you would like more information, please call our toll-free number today.