What was once limited to the worst slums in major cities has now entered all communities throughout Indiana and the United States. Experts claim that heroin use has been on the rise in recent years among men and women in most age groups and all income levels.
The profile of the typical heroin has changed dramatically, if not become mainstreamed. Typical users are now white, middle-class younger people from 18 to 25 years old, a far cry from the former “junkie” stereotype.
The increase in heroin abuse coincides with the alarming rise in opioid addiction. Specific drugs include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, more commonly known by their brand names: OyxContin and Vicodin. The enticing combination of pleasure and pain relief makes these narcotics both attractive and highly addictive.
Those so-called “benefits” have resulted in fatal consequences with a 400 percent increase in both opioid sales and deaths in the U.S. since 2000.
The growing crisis of opioid and heroin abuse has been referred to as both a surprise and a mystery. A recent report revealed Indiana doctors are writing 109 painkiller prescriptions per 100 people in one year. That accounts for more than one prescription for every state resident, earning Indiana a place in the top 12 states for opioid dependence, higher than one percent of people age 12 and older.
Friends and relatives who share or sell unused meds prescribed by doctors only fuel the problem. Pills are often in the wrong hands of teenagers who sidestep prescriptions by “borrowing” or outright stealing pills. Nearly 50 percent of those teens wind up addicted.
Four out of five new heroin users cite opioids as a gateway drug. A 2014 survey showed that that 94 percent made the change due to the reduced costs and easier access that comes with the illegal opioid.
For far too many, prescription and illegal drugs are not an “either-or” proposition. Not satisfied with the potency levels, suppliers have created a deadly combination of heroin and Fentanyl, a drug 50 times more potent than heroin alone.
Illegal drug use has criminal consequences that require legal representation. However, throughout Indiana and the nation, the stakes are much higher, costing more and more lives every day.