The Frightening Heroin Resurgence
Progress has been made in the war on drugs. Marijuana use is, not surprisingly, soaring, but overall cocaine and hallucinogen use is down, and alcohol and tobacco use is down among adolescents. The country is even starting to see some positive movement in terms of prescription drug abuse. But the big surprise has been the resurgence of heroin.
According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 156,000 Americans age 12 years or above tried heroin for the first time in 2012. The average age for these first time users was 23 years. The report finds that use of heroin has doubled in just the last decade. Plenty of kids much younger than 23 are experimenting with the drug. Twelve suburban Chicago adolescents have died from heroin since 2008. Some have linked these deaths to kids from wealthy homes having too much spending money and too little supervision. Others blame the over prescribing of prescription drugs, which lead to those addicted moving to cheaper and easier to obtain heroin.
In fact, police in Pennsylvania tell of dealers working at McDonald’s putting heroin in Happy Meals if customers order with the proper code words. Elsewhere in the state, 20 recent deaths have been linked to heroin packaged with the words “Thera-flu” and “Bud Ice.”
Federal law enforcement officials say that heroin is back with a bang, leaving behind a trail of dead bodies. A rash of deaths in the Northeast occurred after people used heroin mixed with the cancer drug fentanyl, a potent painkiller. In Maryland 37 have died just since September. Another 22 deaths connected to heroin have been reported in Rhode Island, and in Massachusetts police scooped up over 1,000 packages of heroin labeled “Kurt Cobain” and “ObamaCare.” Vermont’s governor has declared a heroin crisis.
The problem with heroin is that users don’t know what they’re getting – the last batch may have been less pure, but the next batch could be more pure and using the same amount could prove deadly. Sometimes the drug is laced with other powerful substances such as fentanyl. It’s a big gamble every time.
Heroin users can get high for as little as $10. And they can get a supply of the drug just about anywhere – including the local McDonald’s, apparently. There is good news on the drug battle front, but this is no time to sit back and rest.