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Heroin Abuse on the Rise among U.S. Teenagers

Jun 04, 2012 - 8 comments


Heroin used to be a drug that was synonymous with poverty, crime and destitution.  Unfortunately, heroin abuse is now affecting America’s youth, especially suburban teenagers.  Within the past few years, many state health departments nationwide have been reporting rises in heroin use and overdoses in teens.  

The Missouri Health Department saw heroin overdoses jump from 69 cases in 2007 to 244 cases in 2011, with more than half of all heroin-associated deaths claiming individuals between the ages of 15 and 35.  In New Mexico, heroin has become the fastest growing drug problem, surpassing cocaine and meth.  According to a local New Mexico news station, KRQE, an estimated $300,000 worth of heroin is sold every day in Albuquerque to kids and adults.

As new laws are passed to crack down on the distribution of prescription painkillers, individuals are also starting to find alternate drugs to satisfy their cravings.  Opiate dependency can produce cravings so intense that many people will consider using heroin (although it is widely known to be extremely dangerous) if they are not able to obtain pills.  Heroin is also cheaper than opiate pharmaceuticals, making it an easier option for younger users.
Many narcotics officials are learning that often times young heroin abusers are first introduced to the drug at local high school parties.

In order to identify if a young adult is abusing heroin, be mindful of any change in personality that may indicate a dependency, like social withdrawal, lack of emotion or decreased activity. Parents can also keep an eye out for drug paraphernalia, such as burned aluminum foil, hypodermic syringes or burned spoons.  If you are a parent and you’re concerned that your child may be abusing heroin, it is very important to keep an open dialogue and discuss the dangers of the drug with your children.  

If you have any questions regarding heroin or other opiates, please leave a comment as I am happy to answer your questions or address any concerns.  


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by margypops, Jun 06, 2012
This doesn't surprise me Dr Weissman when this country now has medical Pot and is considering making it legal .This is the beginning ..why ban cigarettes when the teens are going to be smoking pot .,I doubt they will bake it in Pies ..so the next step will be hard drugs .

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by aheart, Jun 06, 2012
  I know alot of people aren't going to like this but of course there will be more. MaryJane was a gateway drug for teens back in the 70's and it continues to be now. Another point, the police know where the dope sellers are and they are not doing enough about getting it off the streets. I wouldn't be suprised at all if I found out that police everywhere were being bought off. I have every respect for the good police but there is corruption everywhere when it comes to MONEY.
  Having said that our only hope when it comes to the childern is the parents, education and communities. And the good police. This has nothing to do with using pot for medical purposes, although I do think the doctors are writting scripts for way too much of that. It's a well known fact in Ca. that it's easy to get that. Yet people with chronic pain are being made to suffer everyday. The pot doesn't work for everyone. It makes me paranoid and uncomfortable and makes me eat everything that isn't nailed down. No thank you.

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by ronnieblake, Jun 08, 2012
In 2008 my youngest son was 17 and entering his senior year in high school, when suddenly came down with a very serious illness, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/gbs.htm. He was hospitalized for months and intubated (twice) and ultimately had to learn to walk again, etc...This was obviously devastating to the entire family, especially my teenage son.  One day you have a healthy child and the next day, literally they are deteriorating  before your very eyes..  However, what we did not know was the devastation that was yet to come.  Due to my son’s illness causing such severe pain (due to nerve damage), he was on pain medication, Morphine, Oxycontin, opiates...that once my child regained his movement and was able to walk again and resume his somewhat normal activities, we discovered our son was physically addicted to his pain medication.  Of course, how could he not be he was taking some strong medication.  He went through a pain management program and decided himself he wanted to be admitted to a chemical dependency facility at our hospital and detox.  This was all a very knew experience to my husband and I.  We figured okay, once he does that he will be fine.  Fast forward to today and my son has relapsed three time this latest after being sober for over 12 months and he graduated to heroine like so many young people are doing, especially here in southern California with Mexico being so close.  It is an “Epidemic” and it is killing our young people and destroying lives we need some real solutions for fighting this.  To me this is what we should be hearing ALL over the news, instead I hear who is Kim Kardashian dating and what is Jennifer Aniston wearing these days, quite honestly who gives a flip.  This means nothing.  Our children, our future are dying right before our eyes.  Wake up everyone this is not just the addicts problem this is society’s problem.  This is all about “big business” and these drug companies, who are allowed to advertise on television and sell to HMO’s, physicians, this is a crime.  I’m not a smoker but what about the ads on television, where are the drug ads and not the one’s promoting drugs, or the alcohol ads showing how that addiction devastates families, communities… I’m sorry, but I don’t know of anyone who lit up a cigarette and got behind a wheel of a car and killed someone.  Or is constantly robbing or committing petty theft to support their habits (although the price of them I guess keeps going up due to added taxes so this might start happening too).   But really let’s have graphic ads for all of these addictions and see what they really do to lives.  My son’s experience was somewhat unique however why was there no guidance from the doctor’s and HMO letting us know or educating us on the drugs he would be coming off of? I know ultimately this is my sons’ responsibility to stay sober but the road he has traveled and the one he is on now seems hopeless from his perspective.  He tells me he would have rather have died in the hospital than having to go through this rehab, relapse, addiction, etc…  it’s heartbreaking to see the struggle.   He is our baby and as long as he is alive we have hope and faith.  Our faith, through Jesus Christ has sustained us time and time again.  The joy of the Lord is our strength and that is truly what is missing in our Country and all of our lives.  Even if you don’t believe, it does not make it any less real.  Someday we will all stand before him and we will have to make an account of our lives.  The Lord does not force his way into our hearts, he is a gentleman and all you need to do is ask.    

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by rbaygirl, Jun 13, 2012
what is the point of making him stop all meds. he isn't using these meds to get high, if he is in real pain and has an underlying disease that is causing this pain. i don't understand why people think because he/she is physically dependent on pain meds means they're nothing but a junkie. there is SO much delusional, incorrect, and misinformation out there that it scares me. it's so massive of a problem, the mistakes parents make trying to get their kid clean. as long as he's clean then we can be proud, as long as he's clean, he's good. as long as he's clean, i'm not embarrass ed is what it comes down to. PLEASE educate yourself about addiction and especially the type of addiction/drug that your loved one may have an issue with. it is not all the same and no one cure does it all. there is no quick fix, there are alternatives, options and getting yourself well. you may ask, i'm not using drugs what are you talking about...?? again, the disease of addiction is a FAMILY issue/illness and the user is just the beginning. the family has a role with each person who has relationship with the addict.. What you do, say and how you respond to this disease can help or seriously harm the addict. I know, i've been there, been stupid, got educated, help others now and  been sober (do you know what that word even really means??) for over 22 years.  It can be done, but only if you start by getting help for Yourself with education, correct information, and support. Al-anon is a free, excellent support group to start with. best wishes.

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by Nitsuj242, Jun 15, 2012
Hello to all,
                  This is saddening to read. It does not surprise me to hear of this at the same time. It is a very serious problem here in New Mexico also. It is so sad to be able to go into the Doc and get your blood drawn to have them compliment you in shock that you have good veins as the majority of people coming in having junkie's veins from so much heroin use. This drug needs to be eradicated. It is such an awful illness to be addicted to this. Yet, I can sadly see how people do become addicted to it which is very unfortunate. It smells like freaking cotton candy when smoked which unfortunately smells extremely pleasant which I can see as a factor of people being pulled in to "try it once". I've heard it also makes you pretty much feel as if you are instantly extremely drunk without the hassle of having to drink alot for hours upon injecting it.  It is so sad as I've read of so many people who seriously couldn't quit and ended up wanting nothing more then to get off of it till their dying day. It is scary out here because of the trafficking and evil characters out here that are into running it as well as there are so many junkie's that are so wasted and strange they will walk right up to you at Wal-Mart and start mumbling and laughing about nothing to you at random. The bathroom diabetes syringe dumps are ALWAYS filled with "diabete's syringes" and last but not least they had to prohibit mailbox's like the kind you walk up on the street corner to drop envelopes off into as there have been an increasing amount of people in danger of getting hepatitis who would get stabbed by junkie's heroin syringes upon dropping stuff off in the mailbox!!! So it sadly isn't only in New Mexico obviously but becoming a major problem all over?!? Yes, this comes as no surprise though. It is unfortunate but my mom's high school friend's 25 year old son was found dead of a heroin overdose in his bed in Ohio. :( Now this other topic about pain killers caught my attention as well. It is agreed that addiction is bad but at the same time what is the lesser evil? To suffer with a legit horrid problem completely miserable whether it be mental or physical illnesses or to be on a med that is addictive but can considerably help you if not almost cure you of the issues too but cn also still be weened off of when needed to come back off of it with a little extra effort then most other pills? Many Dr.s are too reluctant and even worse will not give out pain meds or anti anxiety meds that actually work what so ever due to the fact of the worry of addiction and abuse as well as private resale. Even with these factors coming in.....so what if the person seriously needs them and is legit?!?!?!? So what if they become dependent especially if they WILL need to continue taking them anyway and ARE in serious pain and suffering?!?! So just let them suffer?!?!?!? This is completely wrong if you ask me. I'm in dire need of an anti anxiety med and my Psychiatrist will NOT put me on Zanex or Klonopin because he is too worried that I will become addicted buuuut on the other hand he states it WILL help if not almost cure you of these problems of constant terror and panic attacks as well as body pain but I won't give it to you because of the addiction problems...then what did he prescribe me in turn ? Haldol and Risperdall!!!!! If you are not familiar with these drugs. They have been known to have SERIOUS side effects including a number of unsuspected random deaths from heart failure and people not waking up after going to sleep while on them. Oh wait but death is ok because you are at least not on a drug that helps you and makes you feel better because it happens to be addictive but NOT anywhere as addictive or dangerous as heroin and that you can get back off of it by tapering the doses down. WTF?!?!? Oh yeah, also I was just getting better and almost able to get back into the swing of things with the rest of society until he put me on the Risperdal which had and extreme adverse side effect of sending me into feelings of sheer terror and overwhelming feelings of deathlike sensations to where I could only try to sleep for a couple of hours at a time with the phone glued to my hand in case of needing to call 911 , pacing around constantly, feeling soulless, no freedom of thoughts...only focused on death and seem to have my brain chemistry stuck this way now to where I am suffering beyond words. So I guess what I am trying to ask is ...are some addictive pills that truly help a person in pain THAT forbidden and is it better as well as the lesser evil to let that person suffer miserably because you won't prescribe them the pills that may be effective in relief of the pain since they are addictive?

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by Nitsuj242, Jun 15, 2012
P.S. I understand Dr.s being reluctant in order to prevent addiction and that is great but I guess what I'm getting at is; is there a certain point where a Dr. just says screw it the drug is addictive but the benefits outweigh the issues?

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by Piparskeggr, Jun 16, 2012
Not meaning to be facetious but the topic reminds me of one of my favorite Steppenwolf songs (which was written by Hoyt Axton), I smoked some grass, drank a lot of booze and swallowed quite a few pills:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6TvaItYu_M

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by Piparskeggr, Jun 16, 2012
As an addenda, though I do have an addictive personality, I never injected or snorted...

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