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Heroin: Why More Young People are Using this Devastating Drug

In November, Jon Bon Jovi’s 19-year-old daughter, Stephanie Bongiovi, was rushed to hospital after a heroin overdose. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana possession. Though Bongiovi’s has left the hospital in better health, her overdose serves as a grim reminder that heroin use in on the rise among young adults and teens. People who abuse prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, often move onto heroin abuse. The problem has several factors, including price, familiarity with prescription painkillers and even attempts to make prescription opioids resistant to abuse.

Familiarity is Deceiving … and Dangerous

While the abuse of prescription painkillers is very dangerous and can have devastating effects, heroin abuse is even more serious. Heroin is often not pure, as painkillers obtained through prescription abuse typically are, and heroin is not clearly labeled for dosing. A serious problem occurs when those who abuse painkillers begin to think of heroin as another form of painkiller. Perceptions of heroin as a risky and highly addictive drug have fallen, further increasing the chance a painkiller addiction will progress to heroin use. A primary factor why people often transition from prescription painkillers to street heroin — and a reason behind the alarming rise in teen heroin abuse — is price. An 80 milligram dose of OxyContin sells for up to $80 on the street. In contrast, a small bag of heroin costs only $5. For young drug abusers with limited finances, heroin is simply more affordable.

Pharmaceutical Safeguards Not that Safe

Purdue Pharma, the producers of OxyContin, recently reformulated the drug to reduce the risk of abuse. The move was well-intentioned and responsible; the company’s goal was to make their product less enticing to painkiller abusers. In this regard, they were successful. After reformulation rates of OxyContin, abuse dropped 17 percent. The same time period saw heroin use almost double. Many OxyContin abusers, no longer satisfied with the effects of the reformulated drug, switched to heroin. The problem wasn’t resolved, it just switched to a different type of abuse.

Dealing with Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is one of the most devastating forms of substance abuse, capable of causing excruciating drug cravings. Successful treatment requires a combination of medication, therapy and long-term support. The Ranch PA take a holistic approach to heroin recovery, combining physical, mental and spiritual treatments to heal the whole person. (Photo via)

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