Take a moment and think about who you think uses heroin. What sort of people come to mind? Did you picture rock stars and celebrities like Steven Tyler and Philip Seymour Hoffman? Or maybe you thought of the disheveled junkies portrayed in movies and television shows. When you think about how many people use heroin, chances are, you’re not going to see the whole picture. While the news loves to cover celebrity drug addictions, the reality is those who use heroin the most are regular people we interact with every single day.
Let’s take a closer look at heroin addiction and the types of people who use heroin the most.
Opioids: The Doorway to Heroin Addiction
The United States is currently facing an opioid epidemic. By 2015, an estimated 2 million people in the U.S. suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and today, 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids misuse or abuse them.
You may be thinking, “Okay, but what do pain killers have to do with heroin addiction?”
And the answer is, opioids and prescription drugs like OxyContin® open the door to heroin use. In fact, research shows that nearly 80% of Americans who use heroin reported using prescription pain killers first. Once users build up a tolerance to pain killers, they quickly transition to stronger drugs like heroin. While heroin addiction has been around since the drug was first invented in 1874, one of the scariest parts about it today is how many users never see it coming.
The New Face of Heroin Addiction
Picture a young college athlete who gets prescribed a pain killer to manage the pain after ankle surgery. Or a man in his 50’s who gets prescribed OxyContin® for chronic back pain. Under regular circumstances, these two individuals would stop taking the prescription once they no longer needed it.
The problem is when the addiction kicks in without them or their doctor noticing. When their current doctor no longer provides a prescription, they’ll bounce from one physician to the next to get more opioids. Eventually, this tactic will run its course, and they’ll have no choice but to turn to the streets to acquire illicit opiates like heroin. If you’re wondering who uses heroin the most, now you can understand why it may not always be who you think it is.
If their addiction is left unchecked, they could build a tolerance to heroin and seek synthetic opioids. What does heroin do to a person compared to synthetic opioids? The answer is simple: they are even more dangerous. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil carry a much higher potential for overdose.
How to Help a Heroin Addict
Does this sound like your son, daughter, spouse or another loved one? Maybe you’ve noticed sudden changes in mood and behavior, missing valuables or money and “track marks” on their body that can be traced back to around the time they started using prescription pain killers. If so, there’s a way to help your loved one overcome their heroin addiction.
At Ranch Creek Recovery, we offer a safe place where your loved one can receive one-on-one care for their heroin addiction and recover at their own pace. Contact us today to learn more about our heroin detox and rehab programs.