“Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry” according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Addiction has also been defined as a compulsive psychological need for a habit forming substance, characterized by tolerance, and discontinued use causes a physical withdrawal.
Addiction is everywhere in our day and age, if you did not happen to notice, the heroin epidemic is real. The scary part about the heroin epidemic is it can literally affect anyone in any path of life. In recent studies, the average heroin abuser is caucasian, in their mid to late 20’s, that comes from a suburban setting.
The scariest part about heroin is that it commonly stems from a prescription opiate addiction. Prescription opiates and heroin have the same effect on the brain, and because heroin has become more available and is cheaper, it is a common replacement. When pills are FDA approved and the ingredients are tested (not that it makes it any better- but at least we know specifics), no one ever really knows every ingredient of the heroin. That is how we see the drug turn deadly.
Mixes of heroin with other drugs is where a real concern comes into play, because this is when we see overdose deaths rising. Bad mixes with substances such as fentanyl have made headlines nationwide with overdose deaths from bad batches.
Narcan is an entirely different monster. It is a nasal spray that revives opiate overdose that has recently been approved to have in a number of middle and high schools nationwide. This fact alone that this is now in suburban middle and high schools shows that school boards are aware that there are students who are taking opiates during school hours.
The main point of pointing out these instances is that is that the chronic disease of addiction can affect any person at any walk of life. Overdoses are not the only worry of drug and alcohol abuse. According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Addiction (NCADD). It is estimated that in 80% of the crimes committed in the United States, drugs and alcohol are a factor.
Drug and alcohol addicts are in jail because of their crimes when treatment is what should be required. Most of the crimes mentioned such as petty theft, criminal When Obama addressed the nation a few weeks ago by highlighting the 21st Century Cures Act, he mentioned how he wanted to give a billion dollards to funding for heroin and opiod addiction treatment. He also mentioned how crucial it is for drug addicts to get help through proper addiction treatment programs.
So next time you think about this drug and overdose epidemic, keep in mind the next addict could be sitting next to you in that doctor’s office, or behind you in line at the grocery store. Keep an open discussion about addiction with your family and friends, and let people know it is not something to be ashamed about, but merely a sickness in which people need treatment.