America is in the midst of a serious opiate problem, ranging from using painkillers non-medically to shooting heroin. A few decades ago, the average heroin user was an older male. Today, that’s far from the reality of the current scene.
Despite the push to educate families and communities about the dangers of heroin abuse, more and more children and young adults seem to be turning to the drug. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin use has more than doubled among 18 to 25 year olds over the past decade. It has also doubled among females and caucasians. In other words, heroin addiction isn’t just happening to 45 year-old minority males in urban areas – it is happening to white teenage girls in suburbia as well.
While we are generally aware that painkiller abuse often leads to heroin addiction, there hasn’t been sufficient change in prescribing practices yet for opiate narcotics. Far too many people are becoming dependent on pain pills, thus leading to severe addictions.
“I can remember the first time I sniffed a ‘Perc 30’ off a toilet seat in the eighth grade with a friend of mine. And I picked up the needle and heroin when I was 15,” recalled Lindsey Beardsley when talking about her evolution into heroin addiction. Starting with pills and moving to heroin is so common that treatment centers are bracing for an even greater influx of patients in the coming years.
Unfortunately, stories like Lindsey’s are popping up all over the country in growing numbers. In order to reverse this trend and save lives, the issue must be addressed on multiple fronts, from treatment and prevention to doing a better job of educating healthcare workers, teachers and parents.