How do we address the problem of increasing heroin abuse in teens and young adults?
Salem, VA: May 1, 2014: While the issue of teenagers and young adults abusing heroin is not something new, the fact that there has been a large increase in heroin use among younger teens and adults proves that this is an epidemic that will not soon be over. It has been reported that an estimated 669,000 people in the United States are in need of treatment for heroin addiction and, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of people initiating their first use of heroin is averaged to be 156,000. 26 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 25 make up the largest age group of individuals seeking treatment, which is a jump from the 11 percent who sought treatment in 2008.
Heroin is not a drug for the rich anymore; it’s ravaging America, one city and suburb at a time. Part of the reason why heroin use is so common amongst young people is due to the simple fact that it is cheap. In the past, Southeast Asia and Colombia were the two main sources of heroin but now Mexico has become the primary source, which has allowed the cost to drop significantly. The average cost of a single dose of heroin is approximately $10-$20, depending on how pure it is. Today heroin is typically at least 70 percent pure while historically, the product being sold was said to have a purity of less than 10 percent. The cost of heroin is now comparable to the cost of drugs such as marijuana and prescription medications but provides a much more powerful high, making it more desirable. Because of the higher purity of the drug, people are now able to use it more frequently without having to deal with the complications, or stigmas, of injecting it.
“We have seen a substantial increase in the number of young adults who come into treatment because of heroin addiction,” stated Bonnie Stewart, Director of Clinical Programs at Mount Regis Center. “Many of these patients know of or have had friends die from heroin overdose; many have almost died themselves.”
As the frequency of use increases, the dosage taken at each use will subsequently increase, putting these young people at a much higher risk of suffering from the dire consequences of chronic use, including overdosing, becoming infected with incurable diseases, or facing an untimely death.
How do we solve it?
Communities: Work together to help put an end to this increasing abuse of heroin. Increasing awareness and knowledge on the topic is the first step towards change. Community outlets, such as hospitals, libraries, and schools, can aid in this process by providing educational classes for individuals who may be concerned about a loved one struggling with this addiction. Schools can work closely with parents if there are questions or concerns regarding the behaviors of their students which they feel may be indicative of possible drug use.
Parents & Family: Learn what heroin addiction is so that you recognize and understand the signs and symptoms. If you believe that a loved one may be using heroin but are unsure, do not hesitate to get a medical opinion. The earlier the intervention occurs, the better.
Treatment Programs: Mount Regis Center and other programs can provide knowledgeable resources for those with questions regarding what heroin is and what it means to be addicted to it. They can provide free assessments that will aid in the process of developing a track for recovery. And, most importantly, they will work to help provide therapeutic and medical interventions for those who need it.
Heroin addicts rarely seek treatment on their own and many may not even realize that their use has become a problem. Getting these individuals to a point where they can admit that they need help will be a challenge, but by pooling together community resources we can work towards developing a plan aimed at eliminating this issue altogether.
About: Mount Regis Center is a community-focused center, providing inpatient, residential and detox treatment programs, located in Salem, Virginia. As a leader in addiction treatment, our goal is to provide the highest quality of care for men and women, who are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Each patient receives individualized care in a safe, comfortable environment, while working towards recovery. For more information on the drugs we treat and programs offered, visit http;//www.mtregis.com/heroin.
CEO – Mt. Regis Center
Starting in the June edition of Body, Mind & Spirit, the professionals at Mt. Regis Center will be providing informative articles on the subject of substance abuse and addiction.