Heroin Addiction Plaguing Middle America
If you think heroin is a back-ally drug used by junkies, you are, well, sadly, mistaken. In fact, the drug has reached a height in popularity. And its users may shock you. 60 Minutes recently did a piece entitled "Heroin in the Heartland," offering a look at how the drug is effecting Middle America. That's Columbus, Ohio, to be exact. There, you won't find heroin being shot up in abandoned houses. You'll find it in upper-class homes, gyms, even schools. The suburbs of quiet neighborhoods are where Mexican drug cartels are turning to unload the drug, sometimes for just $10 a pop. And their consumers range from teachers and high school students to young athletes and professionals. The problem has become so large that, as the report points out, "Federal and local authorities all over the country are calling it the biggest drug epidemic today." It's there in Columbus, Ohio that even the innocent-looking girl next door can be addicted to heroin. The report flashes to Hannah, a sweet-faced girl who says she started using heroin when she was in high school, sometimes even using it while she was at school, carrying a needle in her purse and shooting up in the bathroom. Hannah considered heroin a party drug. And she turned to it, much as she turned to the other drugs she took, at parties. Weed, Percocet and Xanax were her gateway drugs before, at just 15 years old, she began to smoke heroin.
"Let's say I had never done a drug in my life. My happiness was at a 6 or a 7. And then you take heroin and you are at a 26. I wanted that again," she said. So she started smoking it at parties with friends, eventually shooting up at her school during the course of the day. It's the ingredients of a bad after-school special come to life. And for those living in Ohio it is life. But not one parents want their children to live. The report then bounces to Jenna, who grew up in a more rural and smaller area of Ohio than Columbus. Jenna was recreationally taking pain pills, which, as an opiate, are almost chemically identical to heroin. At 18 she turned to heroin, saying it was an easy transition, unaware the drug was also an opiate. So why did she turn to the drug? In her own words, "I was in a small town. There was nothing to do. I was hanging out with older people and partying." Ohio's legislators are aware of the heroin crisis on their turf, saying, "It's in our cities, our wealthier suburbs, and our small towns. There is no place in Ohio you can hide from it. There is no place in Ohio where you can't have it delivered to in you 15-20 minutes."
What scares these legislators is how the drug has gone from having a deadly stigma to being considered a recreational drug. How, exactly, has this happened? Jenna's mother, a nurse, points out that doctors are over-prescribing pain pills. In fact, three quarters of a billion pain pills were prescribed in Ohio last year, making nearly 65 pills for every man, woman and child in the state. One student, Tyler, whose parents appears on the report, lost his life to a heroin overdose. His gateway to the drug was painkillers prescribed after surgery from a football injury. Several weeks later, the quarterback of his football team lost his battle with heroin addiction as well. They are jus two, two in the nearly 23 people who die in Ohio from a heroin overdose each week. And that_�_s just the ones that are reported. Ohio is not alone. Headlines in New Hampshire show parents writing gut-wrenching obituaries about their children also dying from overdoses to the drug. Last year 320 people died from heroin overdoses. In mid-October four passed away in a single week from experimenting with the deadly drug.
The problem is spreading across the country, this time taking a new customer to the grave.
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