From Painkillers to Heroin

Not everyone who becomes dependent on or addicted to prescription painkillers will graduate to illegal drugs, but MSNBC recently reported that while prescription addiction continues at epidemic proportions in the US, the nationwide crackdown on prescription painkillers may be creating another dangerous situation. Individuals who never thought they’d even consider turning to street drugs are using heroin.


It may seem like a stretch, but think about it: Most heroin addicts didn’t start out using heroin. The drug is usually chosen after other substances no longer provide enough of a high or those other drugs have lowered inhibitions enough that it’s harder to say no, even to something so obviously dangerous. So it may start with oxycodone or Percocet, but what happens when those drugs aren’t enough?

Too often these days there is someone nearby willing to offer something stronger.

One small Ohio town southeast of Columbus finds itself on the leading edge of a frightening new drug abuse trend. While new regulations and law enforcement efforts have significantly reduced the supply of prescription painkillers, those efforts have inadvertently driven many users to an illegal opiate that is cheap, powerful and perhaps even more destructive.

This new heroin epidemic starts with a flood of cheap product from Mexico, and, according to the Justice Department, the drug is now showing up in some unexpected places, including upscale suburbs where heroin was once very hard to come by.

It’s not just Ohio, though. Illinois has seen a spike in young suburban heroin abusers and so has Long Island, New York, and Dane County, Wisconsin, to name just a few of heroin’s new habitats. At the same time, in states like Washington, where heroin has been a fixture since the grunge era or even before, they’re seeing a sharp increase among young users, with heroin being the drug of choice for nearly one in three young people entering rehab.

Heroin-related emergency room visits are up, too, as the drug spreads far beyond its past hubs of New York and California. No longer just a problem for urban men, the new heroin user is white, young and from poor rural counties and wealthy suburbs. Many are girls and women. It’s proving its staying power—the kid next door could become the next to put a needle in his or her arm.

The White House has called prescription drug abuse the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially dubbed it an epidemic. As a result of a crackdown, pills are now harder to come by and can run from $30 to $80 dollars for a single one. Meanwhile, A $10 bag of heroin offers a similar or better high. It’s no wonder that even users who are the most adamant that they won’t try heroin end up falling under its spell.

Heroin Abuse Help at The Oaks at La Paloma

If you or someone you love needs help with addiction to heroin or other substances, call The Oaks at La Paloma at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

Articles posted here are primarily educational and may not directly reflect the offerings at The Oaks. For more specific information on programs at The Oaks, contact us today.