The New Face of Heroin Addiction

When you think of a stereotypical heroin user, many of us get a certain image in mind. A person who lives on skid row, unshaven and unwashed? Someone who steals, panhandles or turns tricks to score dope money? This is the image that most people associated with a serious heroin addict. Now consider the actual emerging face of the heroin epidemic: it is young, affluent and white. The face of heroin addiction is teens and young adults from good homes who have tragically have turned to heroin – often led to the drug from an addiction to prescription pills. Celebrity heroin deaths, such as “Glee” TV star Cory Monteith or Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, show that heroin addiction can affect those who “have it all”. These men had loving families, fantastic friends and great success with their careers – yet they lost it all to heroin use.

The Rise of Heroin Use in the Middle Class

According to drug rehabilitation center statistics and recent studies, heroin use is sharply increasing in affluent and middle class neighborhoods across the United States. A 2014 study, published in the research journal JAMA Psychiatry, also confirms that there’s been a dramatic shift in the demographics of heroin use in the United States. In the 1960s, the typical heroin user was an inner-city teenager. Fifty years later, the “new heroin users” in America are more likely to be white suburban men and women in their 20s. Why the shift? The “new face” of heroin addiction typically does not begin on the street. It begins with middle and upper class addicts get hooked on prescription opiates and turn to heroin, because the street drug is much cheaper and easier to get than prescription opiate pills. The study was led by Theodore J. Cicero, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Cicero and his research colleagues analyzed data from an ongoing study that included nearly 2,800 heroin addicts entering U.S. drug rehabilitation centers. The researchers conducted intensive interviews with 54 addicts about their experiences and motivations related to using heroin.

The Facts of Heroin Use Today

“Our typical image of a heroin user is a ‘dirty junkie,’” said Cicero. “This is not the current heroin user. This has become a mainstream problem. This is now affecting white children living in the suburbs.” According to data from the study, in the 1960s, nearly 83 percent of heroin users male (median age of 16.5) who lived in urban areas and started using heroin as their first opiate. Before the 1980s, whites and other races were equally represented. In the last decade, nearly 90 percent of new heroin users were white, with a mean age of 23. Addicts today typically start their addiction with prescription pills, such as OxyContin, and progress to heroin. Heroin is much cheaper than pills – and much easier to score on the street, due to government crackdowns on prescription narcotics. That doesn’t mean that prescription pill use is less dangerous than heroin – it’s actually the opposite – but the numbers are alarming, across the board. According to federal figures, prescription opiates cause 16,600 deaths a year. Heroin causes about 3,000 deaths a year – but death by heroin overdose climbed by 45 percent between 2006 and 2010, spurring public health officials to classify heroin as an urgent and growing public health crisis.

Finding a Drug Recovery Center in Malibu California

One of the most effective ways to stop prescription drug abuse and heroin use is to ensure that they receive proper treatment – before the addiction turns deadly. If you suspect a loved one is using heroin or is abusing prescription pills, you need to find a quality drug rehabilitation center. Looking for the best drug recovery center? In Malibu, Riviera Recovery is a recovery center, Malibu sober living facility that offers sober living on the beach. Addicts have a safe place to heal from their addiction and Riviera’s Malibu recovery center provides addicts with the skills, tools and healthy mental outlook they need to navigate their new sober life, free of heroin or other harmful addictions. To learn more about beachside sober living in Malibu, visit the Riviera Recovery’s website and experience the best sober living in Malibu, California.

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