The latest surge of heroin addicts is not a phenomenon that just happened accidentally. In fact, signs point towards our country’s healthcare system and our need to avoid pain at all costs as some of the major catalysts to increased heroin abusers.
For most people, heroin comes after an addiction to prescription painkillers. Starting in the ‘90s, opioid narcotics grew more popular as a way for doctors to manage their patient’s chronic and acute pain and discomfort. Some people considered the painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin to be miracle drugs, at first.
As more and more people flocked to doctors’ offices and pain management clinics, more prescriptions were written. It didn’t take long for people to realize that not only did these pills alleviate pain, but they also provided a euphoric effect. Soon many people who legitimately had pain were morphing into opiate addicts. And even more people who were not experiencing physical problems were finding ways to obtain the pills in order to get high.
Painkillers work because they are a derivative of opium, and they very closely resemble heroin. In the past, heroin was a drug that was mainly used by older adults who were long-time addicts. Soon after the pill craze took over, more people began turning to heroin, as it was a good alternative to painkillers because it was cheaper and often times easier to obtain. Unfortunately, teenagers and young adults are a demographic that is highly attracted to painkillers and subsequently, heroin. The average age of a heroin user is no longer in their mid-forties, but in their mid-twenties.
While most doctors are of course not looking to create more addicts, some in this country have been convicted of handing out prescriptions for narcotic painkillers without a valid need displayed by the patient. Essentially acting as a drug dealer, these doctors are profiting off of a person’s addiction. As each new opiate addict is created, more than 150,000 people try heroin for the first time over the course of just one year.