The steep spike in heroin-related deaths is equally as shocking as it is sad. In the northeast, it’s reached crisis level. The stories are all so similar. Experimentation leads to full-on addiction, often overdose – and all too often a fatal outcome – especially when drug rehab centers aren’t accessible to the people who need them.
What’s so shocking isn’t that heroin kills: it’s that the deaths grow almost exponentially every year. There have been numerous celebrity deaths linked to heroin, including Cory Monteith and Philip Seymour Hoffman. But right now, the scores of casualties aren’t just people you’ve read about, they’re people who live next door.
Heroin Use Has Expanded Into the Suburbs
Although heroin was once considered solely an inner-city problem, it’s now sweeping through northeastern suburbia. The Journal of the American Medical Association explains in its article, “Driven by Prescription Drug Abuse, Heroin Use Increases Among Suburban and Rural Whites,” that heroin users today are usually white and from the suburbs – and oftentimes, heroin isn’t their first experiment with drugs.
Prescription painkillers appear to be a true gateway for this crisis. Where the street cost of painkillers is about a dollar a milligram, which can equal $60 or more per pill, a bag of heroin, which has a similar effect, might cost less than $10. In areas where industry has failed and the economy has bottomed out, it’s a natural progression to a cheaper fix.
And then there’s the crackdown on painkiller abuse, which makes accessing prescription drugs more difficult. Pill mills poorly disguised as pain clinics are under hard scrutiny, and law enforcement officials are trained to arrest drug abusers, not help them.
Legislation Could Help Drug Rehab Centers Help More People
Understanding addiction as a medical condition and not a crime is an uphill battle. And it has some of its roots in an unlikely place – law enforcement. It’s hard to imagine a police officer helping a drug abuser instead of just cuffing him and taking him to jail, but that’s what’s happening in some areas in the northeast.
In New York and Baltimore, both of which carry the infamy of being the heroin capitals of the U.S., some police officers are now empowered to carry heroin overdose kits. Retired officer Neil Franklin told ThinkProgress that focusing on arrests ignores the real health issues of people who abuse drugs. Franklin is the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which is a group of police officers that advocate drug law reform.
Baltimore can count one out of ten residents as a heroin user. That’s over 600,000 people. But in response, new legislation is being considered that could expand treatment and access to drug treatment centers through additional funding. This signals that a shift toward understanding addiction as a disease and not a crime may have begun.
Prescription drug crackdowns, the low cost and easy access, and similar high of heroin created the perfect storm for this drug crisis in the northeast. Heroin is cheaper than painkillers, and it’s easy to find. Because it’s so addictive and the purity of the drug is never constant, it’s also deadly. Qualified and caring drug rehab centers are the way out for many addicts.
Cornerstone can help you or a loved one get the important treatment for heroin addiction you need to leave it behind for good. We offer an experienced staff and a warm, welcoming, safe environment that’s fully devoted to recovery. Give us a call today at 1-888-711-0354 or contact us online. Communication with our staff is always confidential.