It’s no secret that heroin use is on the rise. In case you haven’t heard, heroin has become the new drug of choice. And while alcohol, meth, and cocaine abuse haven’t gone away, heroin addiction now surpasses every other addiction there is.
Where before heroin use was primarily found amongst minorities in inner-city neighborhoods, it’s now found to be mainly used by whites who live outside large urban areas. But it doesn’t stop there, heroin is being used by everyone—white, black, male, female, young, and old, no one is immune.
The rise of heroin use and addiction can be attributed to the wide distribution of prescription opioids that has been happening since the early 2000s. In 1991 there were 71 million prescriptions written for opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone products. In 2012 this number had jumped to 259 million, or enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills. And these pills are some of the most addictive “legal” substances known to man.
So, while this is an alarming number of prescriptions, what exactly do prescription opioids have to do with heroin addiction? Basically, prescription opioids and heroin provide similar effects. And because opioid use had gotten so out of control (overdose deaths from prescription opioids have more than tripled in the last 20 years), there have been tighter restrictions on prescription medications. Not only have opioids become more expensive, but they’re manufactured so they’re more difficult to crush and snort. Because this is the most effective way to get the desired effects from people addicted to opioids, it’s become more and more difficult for them to continue using them as they have in the past.