In just 4 months, heroin has caused the deaths of at least 13 Bergen County residents- more than one death per week. According to The Record, there were 27 fatal overdoses in 2013. If this year’s rate continues, 2014 will have a drastically greater overdose toll. It’s considered an epidemic because it has crossed all social boundaries- racial, geographical, and economical. It is an epidemic that has gained the concern of students, parents, and officials alike.
Heroin is an opiate- a type of depressant that replaces pain and anxiety with pleasure. Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, describes heroin as “a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo.” It comes from morphine- which the Medline Plus also mentions is “a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.” Based on these simple facts of the drug, the substance sounds fairly innocent. However, the effects from using heroin are beyond detrimental. WebMD sites liver and kidney disease, lung problems, bacterial infections in the heart and blood vessels, and Hepatitis B and C, and even HIV as possible outcomes from abusing the drug.
With constant use, the user soon builds a tolerance for it. This tolerance means that the user must use more and more of the drug to get the desired effect. Over time, the user is both physically and psychologically dependent. People overdose because they have built a dependence and tolerance to the drug.
With all these negatives effects, why would anyone want to start taking these drugs? In Mrs. Wren’s AP Psychology class, students discussed probable causes. Lindsey Rogers brought up a valid point when she pointed out that today’s society is dependent upon having a “quick fix.” When a problem arises, a solution must quickly be found.
Advil, Tylenol, and Aleve are all pain relievers and are all considered “quick fixes.” People begin to rely on pain relievers to do the obvious: relieve pain; however, people become intolerant to pain. In more extreme cases of pain, doctors prescribe stronger medications such as OxyContin after surgeries.
When people want relief, they may turn to OxyContin but prescription drugs are expensive. This is where heroin comes in. Heroin is a cheaper alternative. Heroin is also more dangerous because it can be traced with other narcotics, such as fentanyl.
People want relief and teens, with all of the stresses of adolescence, are especially eager to search for a solution. There needs to be an outlet.
Many people are suggesting that schools revamp their drug safety curriculum and spread awareness of the dangers of heroine. However, it is important to understand that many people who use the drug are aware of the dangers. They simply need relief and are willing to risk their life to get it.
The psychology class also thought of ways to promote other outlets for people looking for an escape. Yoga, therapy, recreational sports were just a few among the suggested activities. While these are valid suggestions, no one knows for sure how successful they would be in stopping the widespread use of heroin.
While a solution to this problem has yet to be discovered, it is clear that something must be done- and fast.
– Claire McAndrew
Sources: NorthJersey.com, ABCNews.com, http://www.NLM.NIH.gov
Photo Source: EMCDDA.Europa.eu