The face of heroin addiction is changing. Historically, heroin use and addiction has been linked to the inner cities and poor minorities, who were the major demographic of heroin addicts. In the 1960s, heroin addicts were still young inner-city males however, current times have showed a drastic shift in the heroin addiction demographic. Today, the average heroin addict is a young man or woman living quietly in the suburbs.
To those who work in the field of addiction treatment and recovery, this not a revelation. Men and women who seek treatment for heroin addiction often share a similar story of painkiller abuse that lead them to seek a cheaper – and more potent high – provided by heroin. Several recently released studies have provided support for this dramatic shift in heroin addicts, which may come as a surprise to those who believe heroin addiction doesn’t exist in their peaceful, suburban community.
Presently, 90 percent of heroin addicts are white – as compared to the 1960s, where 80 percent of addicts were racially diverse – according to a new study released by Washington University. Furthermore, women are 50 percent more likely to be addicted to heroin as well, making the gender demographic equal to men. But more alarmingly, 75 percent of heroin addicts today had their initial experience with opiates through the use of prescription painkillers.
There is a silver lining to this unfortunate epidemic of addiction: insurance providers and many states view this widespread of heroin addiction as a public health issue. The White House has recently changed its approach to narcotic drug addiction by providing access to treatment for the addicted, instead of the usual path of incarceration – where addicts would continue to struggle without help from professionals in the field of addiction medicine. Moreover, the stigma of addiction is slowly being erased from the public psyche as more and more doctors and medical authorities support that the roots of addiction is based in a neurological illness – not a deficiency of morals or poor character.
With the extensive spread of prescription drugs, it doesn?t come as shock that countless men and women find themselves – through no intention of their own – addicted to opiates. Prescription painkillers build up a tolerance in the bodies of those who regularly use them, requiring a higher and higher dose to feel the analgesic effects. Individuals who take prescription opiates for pain management (or for injuries, etc) commonly find themselves experiencing noxious symptoms of withdrawal when they stop or avoid taking painkillers.
Withdrawal symptoms alone could easily convince a person to continue abusing prescription drugs, or lead them to seek out a cheaper and stronger alternative – like heroin. Addiction is not a logical disease and it manipulates people into making dangerous decisions, like going all the way to directly injecting heroin.
In order to fully comprehend the implications of heroin addiction in communities and states nationwide, the public should recognize that those who are addicted are often regular men and women who discover themselves in a downward cycle of drug abuse and addiction but don’t reach out for help because they fear the repercussions of admitting their dependency on drugs. Many individuals would like to think heroin use could never occur in their communities, however it can potentially affect the lives of the people they hold dear.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.