In the past decade opiate addiction has skyrocketed across the United States, with little progress in deterrence, in spite of stepped-up efforts in law enforcement. The rampant abuse of opiate based drugs (like OxyContin, Opana, Vicodin etc) is largely to blame as many young people who experiment with these drugs find themselves hooked and seeking much cheaper (and easier to acquire) heroin to ease the withdrawal symptoms.
Upscale communities coast to coast have been shaken by the rash of heroin abuse in social groups of every economic status. In particular, Orange County, California, has had its share of drug offenders, but it was mostly believed that heroin (and other “hard” drugs) would never be a real problem there, at least in comparison to the epidemic facing it’s neighboring Los Angeles. According to a sheriff’s deputy from Orange County, a high school freshman was caught in late 2011 with dozens of heroin-packed balloons, ready for distribution.
One of the difficulties in tracking just how big of a problem of heroin usethere is in Orange county, is that the statistics on heroin use fall short of the real figures. While teens are more prone to admit occasional use of marijuana or even MDMA (ecstasy or Sassafrass); is is a different story when it comes to teens taking heroin in Orange County. That is the kind of thing they would really keep a secret.
Heroin users quickly progress to the point of secrecy (and often dishonest actions like theft) so they are unlikely tell non-users about the habit. Law enforcement can only get data from two places: the people caught with heroin and the overdose victims.
This is one of the most troubling aspects of heroin abuse. Many families may never know their loved one is an addict until the addict overdoses. With previous surveys (from 1999 and 2001) suggesting that between 1.2% and 1.5% of all high school seniors have tried heroin at least once, drug counselors say the more likely number is 3% or more.
In addition to the known heroin overdoses, the Orange County coroner confirmed (in data going back to 2007) that 80 or more people had died with morphine in their tox screens after death. Morphine is the substance that heroin is metabolized into and can be found during an autopsy. Heroin is again on a rise in use among young people.
Following the deadly spread of crack in the 1980s, across communities big and small and people of all backgrounds, and methamphetamine’s rampage across the heartland and every major city in the past 12 years; heroin is well positioned for a comeback.
People are afraid to speak up and addicts are unwilling to confront the stigma attached to getting help for heroin. There are heroin addiction treatment programs that can help anyone; if you need help, please reach out!