Heroin Addiction is a Scourge for America

Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled in the United States, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC cites heroin as an “illegal, highly addictive opioid drug.” Its overdose can lead to slow and shallow breathing, coma, and death.

It is a common practice with people to use heroin along with other drugs or alcohol. This is a dangerous proposition because it increases the chances of an overdose manifold. Usually, heroin is injected, but people also smoke or snort it at times.

“When people inject heroin, they are at risk of serious, long-term viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B, as well as bacterial infections of the skin, bloodstream, and heart,” says the CDC.

Not only in renowned rehabs like the drug rehab centers, but heroin addicts are a regular feature among patients in treatment centers even in a remote borough. It is because, according to a January 2016 article published on cnn.com, “Heroin use has skyrocketed in rural parts of the United States in the past several years, triggered by the widespread availability of cheap forms of the drug — often times cheaper than black-market prescription painkillers.”

Fight against addiction tops government priorities

President Barack Obama has been trying to address the issue by publicly talking about the efforts his government has been making to tackle the menace of heroin and prescription drug abuse. In his final State of the Union Address in January, Obama said, “… I understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we will achieve this year are low. But, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach that you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on some bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse. So, who knows, we might surprise the cynics again.”

Referring to the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction, at the beginning of his speech, speaks volumes about the emphasis the federal government lays on the issue. President Obama kept his word while presenting his last annual budget in February as he proposed to make a provision for $1 billion to address the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic.

“More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes. The Budget takes a two-pronged approach to address this epidemic. First, it includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over two years to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use and help ensure that every American who wants treatment can access it and get the help they need. Second, it includes funding to continue and increase current efforts to expand State-level prescription drug overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support targeted enforcement activities,” he said.

Who are at risk?

Heroin abuse in the country has reached a dismal level which calls for drastic measures to counter the ill effects. The CDC identifies the following at a higher risk of getting addicted to heroin:

People who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers
People who are addicted to cocaine
People without insurance or enrolled in Medicaid
Non-Hispanic whites
Males
People who are addicted to marijuana and alcohol
People living in a large metropolitan area
18 to 25-year-olds

It is time to get the ball rolling

Appointment of agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack to head a probe investigating ailments plaguing rural America, shows that the state is tightening the noose to stop this heroin epidemic. But everybody has a role to play in stopping the rapidly growing prescription drug and heroin epidemic. Renowned rehab facilities like the drug rehabilitation centers should also come out to lend their support to this endeavor.