21st Century Junkies - The new face of Heroin Addiction
Heroin Addiction has evolved. The stereotypical junky of the 60s and 70s is no-longer standing on the corner scratching, with needle marks lining the inner arms.
Heather, a young suburban housewife, driving the family SUV through the streets of south Central Los Angeles looks right and left, peers into the alleys, trying to spot the heroin dealer she was told was working the area. Behind her, in car seats, are her 2 year old son and 4 year old daughter.
Christina, 19 years old, isn’t in class at her community college today. Instead she is writhing on the bathroom floor of her apartment while her mother tries to comfort her. She is in her third day of heroin Withdrawal.
The term “Heroin Addict” has most often been associated with seedy hotel rooms, stained mattresses and hypodermic needles. But with the recent increases in purity and reductions in price, young users are just as likely to sniff or smoke the Drug rather than inject.
Without the fear of needles as a deterrent, the incidence of first-time heroin use for young people ages 12 to 17 tripled from 1991 to 1997. Although this may make heroin seem less risky to the new abuser, heroin is still a deadly substance and the medical consequences of Chronicheroin use include scarred and collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications including various types of pneumonia and tuberculosis may also result.
Today many people turn to heroin when they are refused further prescriptions to Opioid pain killers they are abusing, even if their initial use of those drugs was legitimate. And there is no avoiding the addictive qualities of abusing heroin, regardless of how it is administered.
So the average heroin user can be just that, average; a white iron worker, an African American student, an Asian housewife.
Heroin doesn’t care. And in the end, withdrawal and addiction treatment are just as necessary.
Published on Feb 7, 2014