The face of drug addiction is no longer the “out of luck loner” on the street corner. The face of the typical drug addict is no longer pale, withdrawn and sickly looking.
The new face of drug addiction and drug addicts have morphed into the faces of computer geeks, high school and college athletes, white collar professionals and regular moms and dads. Gone is the stereotypical images associated with drug addiction and drug addicts from the past. Over the past 15 to 25 years a lot has changed and matured. The availability of potent and highly addictive drugs has effected everyone in all income brackets and neighborhoods.
Popular drugs like Percocet, Oxycontin and Ecstasy are easily available on the streets or in schools. Heroin, which has commonly been associated as a lower class drug, is seeing an explosive resurgence due to its low cost, easy availability and potent high. With easy access to street drugs and prescription drugs, young people are becoming addicted in record breaking numbers and most are resorting to some level of crime to support their habits. In this day and age, it is almost impossible to speak with someone who has not been directly or indirectly effected by prescription or street drugs. Most know a family member, a neighbor or a social connection who has been effected by drugs and drug addiction.
Most areas across the country are seeing an explosive epidemic of drug use and drug addiction. Wealthy areas, such as Suffolk County, New York have experience a 400% increase in drug related crimes and abuse. On Thursday, March 27th 2014 Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency is Massachusetts in direct response to the explosive drug addiction epidemic. “We have an epidemic of opiate abuse in Massachusetts, so we will treat it like the health crisis that it is.” said Patrick (1)
In Massachusetts, 67% of the latest admissions to drug treatment facilities were in between the ages of 21-39 years old. More than half of those, 57%, reported abusing heroin and another 20% said they were taking other drugs such as prescription painkillers. Young adults ages 18-25 years old need to reduce the risk and exposure of alcohol and prescription medications. Young adults need to stop addiction by prescription.
Doctors are working hand in hand with local law enforcement by using the Prescription Monitoring Program. The Prescription Monitoring Program is a database where doctors and law enforcement can spot trends of addiction or prescription fraud. Doctors are trying to be more responsible but it is very easy for an addict to get heroin in place of a prescription. As Doctors crack down on prescriptions addicts find substitutes on the street. Physicians need to use common sense. Giving someone a 15 day supply of Oxycontin for a toothache does not make sense, extra strength Advil would easily suffice.
Doctors are getting better but they are handing out prescriptions too easily for their patients in fear of losing a client. While young kids are getting hooked, a record number of adult addicts are being created because of medical marketing and the ease of accessibility to anti depressants and pain killers being prescribed by physicians.
The best defense is a good offense and the best way to fight the epidemic of drugs and drug addiction begins at home. First, parents need to get help and educated about the various types of drugs. Parents need to get treatment, if they have a problem, or get involved with groups to learn more about drugs, drug symptoms and drug availability. Once properly educated and informed, parents must begin educating their children about the dangers of substance abuse and peer pressure. This is an ongoing process and meetings must occur multiple times.
It takes everyone to fix this problem. One addict can effect a family, which effects the community.
(1) Herald News