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Heroin is Movin’ On Up: New Study Shows 75% Of Heroin Addicts Now Live In Suburban Areas

Heroin is Movin’ On Up: New Study Shows 75% Of Heroin Addicts Now Live In Suburban Areas

We’ve seen plenty of coverage about it in the news – heroin is currently an epidemic in this country and its use is far-reaching, even into areas like middle-class suburbia.

But, now according to HealthDay via WebMD News a study has been conducted, which supports this trend with actual science and statistics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that U.S. sales of prescription narcotics rose 300% in less than a decade, between 1999 and 2008. During the same time period, fatal drug overdoses tripled, a number, which in large part is attributable to prescription painkillers.

According to research published yesterday in JAMA Psychiatry online, heroin use was mainly a problem affecting teens living in poor, urban neighborhoods; it now is more commonly found among whites in their early 20s. That’s to say, the current typical heroin user is a middle-class suburbanite who first began using prescription painkillers.

Lead researcher for the study, Theodore Cicero, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. “There really has been a shift, in just the past five years or so. There’s been a migration (of heroin abuse) to the suburbs.”

Although the current findings came as no surprise, Cicero added that “This is verifying, in a systematic way, what we’ve suspected.”

Before the 1990s, doctors weren’t prescribing powerful opiate narcotics, says Dr. Herbert Kleber, an addiction expert at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. When treating pain became more of a priority, a ‘fifth vital sign’ in medicine, there was a movement toward prescribing these powerful painkillers.

This recent trend of heroin use in the suburbs can be widely attributed to abuse of prescription narcotics such as OxyContin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone), and fentanyl. When some of the people who were prescribed such medications became addicted, they eventually turned to the cheaper version – heroin, Cicero said.

Heroin is Movin’ On Up: New Study Shows 75% Of Heroin Addicts Now Live In Suburban Areas

The Study

The researchers collected data from a survey conducted on almost 2,800 U.S. patients who were in treatment for heroin abuse. Older patients who had first started using heroin back in the 1960s were mostly men who started using when they were teens and who had gone straight to heroin as their first drug of abuse. Just over half of these patients were white.

Over time, the profile of the American heroin user has morphed, a shift that began during the 1990s. B 2010, about 90% of recently initiated heroin abusers were white, and half were women. The average age of today’s heroin user is 22.9 years old. And, 75% lived in “less urban” areas, according to the study.

Three-quarters of people who began abusing heroin after 2000 started with abusing painkillers before ‘graduating’ to heroin, and spoke of the main attraction to using the illicit substance: It’s cheap and easy to get.

On the street, OxyContin can run up to $80 for a pill – whereas heroin can be as cheap as $6 for a bag, Kleber noted.

In the study, people reported getting heroin from middle-class neighbors or classmates.

Janina Kean, president of the High Watch Recovery Center, a drug rehab facility in Kent, CT said education regarding the disease of addiction is essential. Some heroin abusers in the study said that, at first, they didn’t consider themselves to be addicts because they didn’t fit the image of the stereotypical “junkie.”

“There’s so much stigma around it,” she said. “And stigma is a barrier to treatment.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.

History of Drug Abuse: The 90’s

History of Drug Abuse: The 90's

A decade of “mom and pop” meth labs, being heroin chic, up all night at the rave and totally stoned.

Federal funding for the war on drugs reached $17.1 billion dollars. At this period of time, 34% of Americans admitted to having tried marijuana.

In the 1990s there was decline in most drug abuse but not all. In the 1990s there was a rise in pot smoking, the rise of the rave culture, and also “mom and pop” labs of methamphetamine. Heroin use in the 1990s also increased, as well as the number of overdoses. In fact, you can see see the residual effects of the drug trends in the fashion industry.

Here is a fun fact, heroin became so popular that the reason most models look the way they do today is because of it. The 1990s came up with the trend “heroin chic”. Heroin chic was a look popularized in mid-1990s fashion and was characterized by pale skin, dark circles underneath the eyes and angular bone structure. The look gave way to emaciated models such as Kate Moss. A 1996 article in the Los Angeles Times stated that the fashion industry had “a nihilistic vision of beauty” that was reflective of drug addiction and U.S. News and World Report called the movement a “cynical trend”.

The 1990s saw an increase in pot use, ecstasy use, and crystal meth. “Ecstasy and crystal meth are popular in California, meth is big in the Midwest, and the New Jersey Turnpike is just ‘the Heroin Highway’,” -Unknown

Marijuana use in the 1990s: Marijuana use among American youths and young adults increased substantially during the 1990s. Much of the increase in marijuana use could have been attributable to the growing popularity of blunts. If you ever wonder if there really was an increase in marijuana use just listen to the music. Much of the music and culture of the 90s was surrounded by the idea of getting “stoned”. Think, Cypress Hill.

Heroin use in the 1990s: During what seemed like an epidemic of urban heroin use in the 1970’s, the images of the typical addict — strung out, nodding off on street corners, track marks along every vein — were so strong that they turned off an entire generation of potential users. Those images did not resonate so strongly in places where addicts were seen only on television. So when heroin became purer and cheaper as well as able to be smoked or snorted, in the 1990’s, it took root in predominantly white, working- and middle-class communities. Heroin in the 1990s was one of the most deadly of the illegal drugs leading to overdoses of many famous people such as Sublime’s front man Bradley Nowell who died in 1996 and The Smashing Pumpkins band mate Jonathan Melvoin also in 1996. Heroin was glamorized within the music industry as well as the fashion industry.

Meth use in the 1990s: PDFA studies found that use by high school students more than doubled between 1990 and 1996. New ways to cook methamphetamine appeared in 1990s. Some new versions were four to six times stronger and more addictive. Greatest use was seen in the Southwest and West. Methamphetamine use began and grew in the rural Midwest. Rural locations became ideal for cooking of methamphetamine because of geographic isolation, available supply of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and anhydrous ammonia. In 1996, congress passed the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act, which regulated mail order and chemical companies selling chemicals. For example, people who bought large quantities of red phosphorous, iodine and hydrochloric gas would have to show they would use them for legitimate purposes. Law enforcement agents became allowed to track large mail order purchases of pseudoephedrine, another precursor chemical. Chemical supply companies would now be punished if they sold chemicals to people who make methamphetamine.

Ecstasy use in the 1990s: MDMA use rose sharply among college students and young adults during the 1990s, according to the 1995 Monitoring the Future study.  Beginning in 1987 on the Spanish island of Ibiza, British vacationers had all-night parties with loud, beat-driven dance music in crowded conditions. Raves spread first to the United Kingdom and then to the United States. By the mid-1990s they were all over the place, especially in big cities. The use of “club drugs” to enhance the enjoyment of the party experience was already established in America, where certain “discos” had already been catering to cocaine and amphetamine users. Ecstasy fit into the rave scene better than cocaine, however. High on ecstasy, shy or cautious people became wild dancers, open and friendly to strangers, and they were able to stay awake all night. By the time raves became established in the United States, ecstasy had already been added to the Schedule I list of controlled substances by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Emergency room visits sparked by bad reactions to ecstasy spiked from 253 in 1994 to 5,542 in 2001, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report.

These were a few of the biggest drug abuse trends of the 90s. Did you experience any of this? How old were you in the 1990s? Did you fall into any of these trends? Can you point out any other things about the 1990s that really led to the increase in drug abuse?

If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.

Sources:

http://www.enotes.com/marijuana-reference/marijuana-173302

http://www.enotes.com/ecstasy-mdma-reference/ecstasy-mdma

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin_chic

http://healthvermont.gov/adap/meth/brief_history.aspx

 

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