heroin-spread    Heroin use has moved up and also moved out of the inner cities into suburbs across the US. In fact, heroin is responsible for 2.7 deaths for every 100,000 people in the US alone in 2013, while drug related deaths associated with all other opiate analgesics is down from 6.8 for every 100,00 people to 5.7.

And while that may look like progress to some…looks can be deceiving.  In 2010 heroin was only responsible for 1 death for every 100,00 people.  It isn’t just a wash.  Death from heroin overdose is a rapidly rising epidemic that without action may soon surpass that of all other combined opiate related death in the US.

Why?  It’s cheap, it’s powerful and is rapidly becoming more and more available.

When I was growing up, heroin was the drug many addicts, myself included swore they’d “never do.”  I was wrong.  As a former drug addict I can explain the dwindling spiral to a heroin addiction.  You get high-whether it is marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, ecstasy, etc.  That drug solves some problem for you-“I can work longer” ”I can be more social” “I don’t have anxiety anymore” are a fraction of the justifications to use.  Once that substance has solved this problem, it becomes a trained in solution.  However that solution has a shelf life.

Eventually you will need to take more and more of the same substance to create the same effect and to solve the same problem.  All the while, the action of taking illicit substances creates new problems only furthering the necessity of drugs to solve the new, even larger problems.  Eventually you reach for the next drug, sometimes while still using the others, sometimes combining them with other drugs readily available.  What happens now is a recipe for disaster that soon encompasses all social and familial relations and results in really, really big problems.  So as you reach for the next drug, know that the chances are great that you will eventually wind up at heroin.

Eighty percent of heroin users report having previously used prescription pain killers, while only one percent of users of prescription painkillers have used heroin.  It isn’t a system that works in reverse.

With heroin related death on the rise other social, economic, and health related impacts occur.  The CDC reports a rise in both hepatitis C and HIV in clusters of suburbs outside major US cities.  In fact, it has become rarer and rarer for someone to not know of another who has been involved with this drug.

Efforts in mitigation of risk and harm reduction have and are being made.  Nalaxone, a powerful opiate antagonist, is now carried as standard equipment on ambulances across the country.  Additionally CVS pharmacies in 14 states will sell Naloxone without a prescription.  http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/cvs-will-sell-naloxone-without-prescription-14-states/

Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to just lower the risk of heroin use.  Education and prevention efforts are vital to reverse the rising tide of heroin and other drugs across our country.

I work as a drug and alcohol counselor and fortunately get to do something about the problem.  However to one day be out of work resulting from the termination of the world’s rampant drug and alcohol problems would be a dream come true.

Through my own experiences as a former addict and as a counselor I do know, however, that without the efforts of many in the fields of education, healthcare, social betterment, and the politics, I am going to be working for a long time to come.

Heroin addicts need your help.  Find out if your state allows you access to Naloxone.  Then get some and get others to carry it and use it.  Most importantly, speak up and insist a heroin addict get treatment.

Let’s not avoid the elephant in the room.

Guest Blogger Derek HieblimDerek-profile

Derek is certified as a Non-Violent Crisis Intervention Instructor from the Crisis Prevention Institute. Also a Counselor in Training with the Louisiana Addictive Disorders Regulatory Authority
since 2013, he will become fully certified in 2016. As the Narconon Case Supervisor, Derek oversees all delivery of the Narconon program from withdrawal to the completion of the program.

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