Heroin drug abuse continues to explode. One cannot help but notice the media attention since the passing of the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Today the Huffington Post ran an article “How a big drug company inadvertently got American hooked on Heroin.” Newsday reports “9 charged with dealing ‘Hollywood’ heroin in Suffolk.”
Both articles focus on something that reflects the increase of addicts nationwide; heroin is cheap, heroin is readily available and heroin is highly addictive. The addicts usually start with a gateway drug, such as painkillers, and move quickly to stronger and more effective illegal substances. In Long Island, NY substance abuse has grown wildly up 425% in the last two years alone. (1) Patients in for opioid pill drug abuse are up a whopping 1,136% in Suffolk County, Long Island.(2)
Painkillers, which are the medical cousin to heroin, are readily available as long as they prescribed by a doctor. It is all too common to find doctors prescribing medications at will without a full understanding of the patients requirements or an understand of the patients addiction history. However, of late, some argue that more people are turning to heroin because doctors are more cautious about prescribing opioids, this decreasing the supply and forcing drug users to seek out heroin as a cheaper, more readily available alternative.
In a study from 2013, nearly four out of five people who started using heroin used prescription painkillers first. (3) Getting more ” bang for the buck” is the primary motivation for the switch. In the past, heroin was usually associated as a “poor mans” drug. But that all changed in the 1990’s when Oxycontin was released by Purdue Pharma. Doctors were sold on time released Oxycontin by the drug company. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and 3 of it’s top exec’s plead guilty to misleading doctors and paid $600 million in fines.
Today, Suffolk’s East End Heroin Task Force arrested nine men and charged them with dealing a highly potent form of heroin under the brand name “Hollywood.”(4) Suffolk County continues to fight heroin abuse. For every dealer that is convicted, ten dealers are waiting in the shadows to take their place. Suffolk is battling a sky-rocketing addiction rate and whatever the county is doing, is not working.
County task forces are working on substance abuse prevention and treatment efforts but the counties do not have the manpower, leadership or budgets to fight this rapidly growing epidemic.
Suffolk County is home to some of the most expensive real estate in the United States; East Hampton, West Hampton, South Hampton, Quoque, Sag Harbor and Montauk.
(1) Huffington Post
(2) Huffington Post
(3) Huffington Post