By David Bloodsaw
There has been a spike in heroin use the past few years and some noticeable deaths have shined a spotlight on the dangers of the drug. In particular, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and the unsettling details have surprised many people to the dangers and the renewed interest in the drug. The Wall Street Journal reports that Latin American sources and the difficulty obtaining prescription narcotics have fueled the increase of heroin use.
Quoting onlinewsj.com, “The number of heroin users in the U.S. jumped almost 80% to an estimated 669,000 in 2012 from 373,000 in 2007, according to surveys by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Annual overdose deaths attributed to heroin hit 3,094 in 2010, the most recent data available, up 55% from 2000, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Heroin has been around and abused before the 1950s to its height in the 1980s, but was used mostly in urban areas. Now, the popularity of the drug has bled into suburban areas and rural communities. 17 out of 20 Researchers at a National Institute of Drug Abuse meeting said that heroin was their newest emerging concern.
Increased heroin use is surmised due to the rising price of illegal prescription narcotics and the limited accessibility to the drugs. Heroin is cheaper and in the same family as oxycodone and opiods.
Another reason for the spike in heroin use is the Mexican pipeline has increased production and distribution to the United States. According to the DEA, heroin seizures rose 232% between 2008 and 2012.
Because production methods are more sophisticated, batches are more lethal than in the past. Heroin now might be 50% pure as opposed to 5% back in the 80s. Also, heroin is mixed with other dangerous additives, which can be lethal on the streets. Dangerous heroin batches are to blame for many deaths along the east coast.
Another compelling difference is the heroin user is now affluent and young as opposed to lower income abusers in the past.
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