Crackdown on Prescription Drug Abuse Fuels Increase of Patients Seeking Heroin Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment centers across the country are starting to see a new wave of heroin addicts, according to MSNBC. As prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions across the country, measures to reduce prescription drug abuse, such as new legislation and pill distribution regulations, have inadvertently fueled another drug abuse trend- heroin.

Inexpensive and chemically similar to prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Percocet, heroin is relatively accessible for those addicted to prescription drugs. While prescription opiates can sell for $30-$80 a pill, a bag of heroin can run as low as $10. Medical statistics and studies reveal that the problem is national. From Ohio to Illinois, Washington and Wisconsin, studies have shown that the most dramatic increase has been among young people. In King County, Washington, nearly a third of those entering addiction treatment for heroin abuse in 2009 were between 18 and 29. The national Drug Abuse Warning Network, reported a 13% increase in the number of visits to the emergency room for issues related to heroin from 2005 to 2009.

Addiction Treatment Statistics

The demographics of heroin use have also changed. Whereas heroin addicts have been overwhelmingly urban males in the last twenty years, those entering addiction treatment in the last two years are more likely to be young, white and from rural areas or wealthy suburbs. Increasingly, many of the addicts are women or girls. This supports a study from the U.S. Justice Department which tracked heroin to new geographic areas, including upscale suburbs and towns.

"Twenty years ago, half of the heroin addicts in treatment lived in two states - New York and California," Dr. Joe Gay director of an Ohio regional addiction and mental health clinic Health Recovery Services told MSNBC. "(Now, in Ohio) we're seeing it spread out of the cities, into the suburbs and into the rural areas."

The spread of heroin coincides with the increase in emergency room visits and the number of individuals entering addiction treatment for heroin. The unintended consequences of the prescription drug crackdown have unfortunately had repercussions. For many, being young and in recovery is difficult, especially when surrounded by peers who still use drugs and alcohol. Aftercare and alumni programs directed at young adults can help curb the recidivism rate.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction are treatable and many people live healthy sober lives after addiction treatment. The human body begins to heal the moment the substance abuse stops, so it is never too late to start a sober lifestyle.

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the President and CEO of Destination Hope, a licensed dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ben has more than 20 years of experience in the addiction and mental health fields, which led him to develop a combination of innovative treatment protocols at Destination Hope. He has been published on various topics including dual diagnosis and chemical dependency, and gives back to the community by educating other addiction counselors at his Academy for Addiction Professionals.

No comments:

Post a Comment