Heroin Returns to America's Streets and Suburbs

By Robert P Mauer
There can be a tendency among people who do not abuse illicit substances to assume that suburban communities do not suffer the same problems with hard drugs that more urban environments do. Sure, the Johnson's kid got into trouble for smoking a joint at school, or maybe there's gossip about old Mrs. Smith not really needing to take as much valium as she does, but there can be an assumption that something like heroin would never find its way into a gated community or suburban high school. The truth, however, is that heroin, after years of declining use as other drugs became more popular, is making a comeback, and it's strongest in unexpected demographics.
Prescription drugs, many of them pain killers and muscle relaxers, surged in popularity in the late nineties. This rapid rise in prescription pill abuse was caused by a number of factors, such as easier availability and a general misconception that such drugs were safer than "street drugs" like methamphetamines and heroin. As prescription pills became popular, heroin use declined mildly, but as law enforcement and doctors have become more aware of prescription pill abuse and are cracking down on it accordingly, heroin use is once more on the rise. What's more, the recent data on modern heroin use displays a number of disturbing trends.
Heroin used to be the sort of drug that people thought of as an end-game addiction. Which is to say, it was only after experimenting with so-called "gateway drugs" that individuals progressed to the use of hard drugs like heroin. Now, the "gateway drug" theory seems to be in question, as more and more users are admitting to trying heroin without ever having used other drugs, even legal ones like cigarettes and alcohol. Part of the reason, it is theorized, is that as prescription opiates like Percocet and Oxycontin become harder for abusers to cheaply access, they turn to a cheaper alternative: heroin. Of those users who only came to heroin after trying other drugs, the overwhelming majority had started out using prescription painkillers.
In addition to the trend of users going straight to heroin when they decide to experiment with drugs, there are several other ugly statistics. One of these, which comes directly from the Drug Enforcement Agency, is that heroin use in the United States will continue to rise. Another is that the drug has gained the most popularity among middle class communities, and at the same time, the age of the average user has gone down. What this means is that not only is heroin use in the suburbs a growing problem, but users are turning to heroin much earlier in life, with the average having gone down five years to the shocking age of only 21.
Heroin is extremely addictive, and has claimed countless lives-and unless an individual undergoes heroin addiction treatment, it is almost impossible to quit. Here at Malibu Horizon, we are better equipped to combat heroin addiction than most anywhere else in the country. This is due to our extensive expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and ability to tailor a treatment plan to the individual.

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