It’s being reported in news publications all across the country. Heroin is no longer a back alley, inner city drug used by the disenfranchised – it’s quickly replacing prescription drugs as the preferred substance for white, middle and upper-middle class suburbanites. A recent study appearing in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that the reports are true. Heroin has found a new home.
The WashingtonUniversity, St Louis study collected its data from 150-plus drug addiction treatment facilities located across 48 states. The study’s lead author, Theodore Cicero, says that heroin began as a drug for the lower classes (1940s), then migrated into cities where it became popular with minorities (1970s) and has more recently gained favor among white non-urban dwellers (2010s). Federal agencies from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to the Office of National Drug Control Policy say that the number of heroin users in America has at least doubled just over the past decade – mostly among young, wealthy, white populations.
Most experts attribute the trend to the nation’s recent prescription drug addiction epidemic. Experts studying the phenomenon point to the overwhelming preference among prescription drug abusers for opioid medications. Heroin belongs to the same drug family (opioids) as those painkillers. It’s just much cheaper and easier to get than prescription medications. Especially now that drug dealers are willing to make deliveries in the suburbs.
That means that every successful effort to cut off diverted uses of prescription painkillers will likely see a commensurate rise in the number of heroin users.
Drug addiction is not an availability issue, it is a psychological issue. People use drugs for a reason and until they learn a new way to address that reason, they may turn to another substance to use. At Family Guidance, we understand all about what drives drug use and can help you find new ways to cope. Call us or stop by today.