It should come as little surprise to many that the number of heroin addicts is on the rise. The increase has been nearly exponential, with the number of new users doubling about every five years. The most current numbers available, from 2011, indicate that over 4 million people have used heroin in their life time. About a quarter of them become addicted to the substance.
Recent numbers are unavailable, but the fact that the problem is increasing is undeniable. In Cincinnati, Ohio, police are reporting a sharp increase in vehicular crashes caused by heroin addicted drivers. According to Sergeant Michael Hudepoh of the Cincinnati Police, the city used to have about 50 heroin related accidents in a year. Now, they’re responding to multiple incidents per day.
“It’s a continuous circle to keep the drug in your system and these people go to any length to get it. They get in their car, they use it, they OD, the crash and then we get involved.”
Last Friday, the Cincinnati police were called to four separate heroin related vehicular incidents. Addicts were actually shooting up while driving. One lost control and rolled his car. Another overdosed, passed out, and crashed into a church. Other areas of the state are in just as bad of shape. In the Toledo area, estimates are that the final numbers for 2014 will finish up with around 150 deaths being directly related to heroin — quadruple the number for 2012. An estimated 200,000 Ohio residents are addicted to heroin. As reported by the Inquisitr, roughly 8,300 people died from heroin usage in 2013, and the numbers are on the rise.
Drug addiction is not a new phenomenon. Since opioids have been ingestible, people have been addicted. Some part of the addiction problem comes from recreational users. Those who seek a thrill, or are looking to escape reality. But another body of users is quickly growing. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that more readily available prescriptions for the powerful painkillers have heavily contributed to the epidemic of heroin addiction. The drug czar under presidents Nixon and Ford, Robert DuPont, is harshly critical of the overprescription of opiate pain relievers.
“We seeded the population with opiates. What started as an OxyContin and prescription-drug addiction problem in Vermont has now grown into a full-blown heroin crisis.”
The Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation decreed in 2000 that patients were suffering needless pain, encouraging doctors to prescribe stronger pain relieving medications, and opening the floodgates. When prescriptions run out, addicts, who are increasingly older middle class Americans, are left with limited options. Rehab or street drugs such as heroin become their choices. Heroin addiction is insidious, and a burgeoning problem.