Heroin Epidemic and Millenials
How dangerous is this heroin epidemic on our younger population? This issue is so bad to the point that guides on how to avoid dying from the outbreak are available and selling. This is a wake-up call to every nation in the world. It has become a popular drug among young people and has affected a lot of individuals from different communities irrespective of their backgrounds
We are in that period which might be the worst crisis in the department of public health: the opioid epidemic. Generations are sometimes characterized by a particular public health crisis, for example, the “AIDS Generation” which affected people in the 1980s at a time when little information about it was known nor how to combat it. Just like how there is the AIDs millennial is the same way that we also have the Heroin Epidemic millennial.
The heroin epidemic that is sweeping the nation is hitting some demographics much harder than others. The CDC has been able to release data about the epidemic, and it has broken down the deaths as a result of the heroin overdose by age. Heroin addiction and overdose deaths began to spike in the year 2010. The older millennial which consisted of individuals between the ages of 25-34 was the most affected and had a higher likelihood to die from a heroin overdose. The data at that time shows that heroin overdose was 9.7% per 100,000 for this age group in 2015. The rate which is four times of that witnessed in 2010.
Millennials are flooding hospitals emergency rooms due to heroin addiction which has increased steadily over the past five years. Overall, heroin users of all ages who are visiting the emergency rooms have increased and are higher among the young adults. With the high rate and growing number of users, experts are getting concerned that the heroin crisis is just intensifying. It could only be the beginning of an epidemic.
Are The Prescription Drugs To Blame?
One of the biggest difficulties faced in trying to stop the heroin or opioid crisis is the fact that a large number of opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin is legally prescribed as painkillers. The opioids were widely and readily available in the year 2012 that some states recorded more prescription than the exact number of residents leaving there.
In 2016, the heroin overdose deaths were much higher than firearm related homicides as per the report released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This shows that opioids can be one of the many drugs that millennials can access quickly.
As a matter of fact, it has been found that most of the millennials who struggle with opioid addiction might have first acquired it from another person’s legal prescription. The biggest problem is those prescription reservoirs found in medicine cabinets in our homes. With time, the person turns to cheap street opioids such as heroin even without realizing it. The pills are prescribed to someone, but soon you will see that they are just sitting around where the kids can easily get them. Once this supply runs dry and they are unable to access more through a prescription, people then turn to the street to find a cheaper and stronger solution - heroin.
Death rates are particularly on the rise and hitting millennials the hardest. Limiting prescriptions and investigating the various pharmaceutical companies may be one of the action steps to try and end the crisis. But that is just the beginning as the fight is far from being over.
Recognizing Heroin Overdose
People find it difficult to differentiate between when a person is very high or is experiencing an overdose. If you have a loved one who is using, here is how to tell the difference. But whenever you have difficulties in understanding the difference, it is always better if you just treat the situation as an overdose. If the person is high and using heroin:
- Pupils tend to contract and look small
- Their speech becomes slurred
- The skins become itchy, and that is why they scratch a lot
- They might “nod out.”
- Muscles become slack and droopy
- They can be out of it but could also respond to an outside stimulus such as shaking or loud noise
Whenever you are worried that a person is getting too high, make sure that you do not leave them alone. Ensure that they remain conscious by walking them around to keep them awake. Look out for the following signs of an overdose:
- Losing consciousness
- Choking sounds which are also known as the “death rattle.”
- Slow and shallow breathing
- If the person is light skinned, the skin tone will be bluish or purple if they are dark skinned
- Awake but cannot talk
- Clammy or pale face
- Their heartbeat is slow or even not there at all
- Lips will turn purplish black or blue
Heroin addicts who survive an overdose live because someone was available to respond and help right away. The most important thing you can do when in this situation is to act quickly.
Long Term Effects of Heroin
To begin with, how can you know if someone is on heroin? One of the common effects of heroin as well as other opioids is pinpoint pupils. The pupils will enlarge only when the addict is detoxing. All users tend to run with other drug addicts and have a hard time paying for anything other than their addiction. Heroin addiction is an expensive dependency which is why addicts tend to have financial issues and result to other crimes to fuel their addiction.
Another thing that gives away heroin addicts is the track marks. If you are suspecting that a loved one is using, watch out for drug paraphernalia around like syringes or spoons that has soot stains at the bottom. Brown or white powder that is mostly wrapped in a clear plastic paper could be heroin.
Heroin abuse has detrimental consequences not only for the person who is using it but also for the people who care about you. But when you look back at how heroin has affected you, you will realize that recovering from the addiction is worth your effort and the only best option you have left.
One thing that is very clear is that opiate addiction has been and is still hard to treat. Even the patients who have made a choice to go into drug treatment programs have a hard time in beating the addiction. This powerful drug can firmly convince you that nothing matters more than getting your next high as soon as possible; it is that powerful.
But this does not mean that it is impossible to recover from heroin addiction. The good thing is that there are some behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatment such as methadone and suboxone among others which can help an addict go through heroin abuse recovery successfully.
In addition to health concerns, individuals who are using heroin could face criminal charges and the charges for people who are arrested for possession or sale of opiates is mostly harsh. That way it can have an enormous impact on an individual’s life.
How Can You Survive A Heroin Epidemic?
The first step if you believe you or your loved one has an addiction or even heading towards the heroin problem should be to talk about it. You can confide in someone you trust like a family member, physician or even a friend of confidence and share your worries with them. Most local medical centers have programs like in Methadone clinics for anyone who is paid for by the government to help with opioid addiction. As a result of such centers, there have been some dramatic reductions not only in mortality but also infectious disease.
It appears that the addicts who are mostly of age 18-25 are dying from missing out on information which is also readily available. They miss out on such helpful information due to the stigma that forces them into secrecy.
If you are a heroin addict or you have a loved one who is an addict, it will be safe and helpful if you make sure to get your hands on as much naloxone as possible. It is the antidote given to users who overdose on an opiate. Getting some training on how to recognize an overdose and effective kind of response such as providing naloxone can go a long way to save a life.
On top of having quick access to naloxone, an addict should avoid mixing these drugs with drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol. A number of the overdoses reported come from combining drugs which are quite dangerous. But the good thing about most of these overdoses is that they can be preventable.
The last thing that a drug addict needs is for their families to turn on them. Individuals using heroin are loved ones and they all deserve to be alive. Many of them die because of being pushed into the shadows. We are all they have, and we should be there in the darkest moments to be their lifeline. If you take that away, you make it hopeless for them.