Prescription Drug Abuse May Be Down, But Heroin Overdoses Are on The Rise. What Is to be Done?

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For the last 20 or so years, drug overdose deaths have been on the rise. Even more concerning and worrying is the statistic being made public by the CDC. The statistic being that for the third year in a row, heroin deaths have spiked. From 2012 where a reported 5,927 people died from a heroin overdose, in 2013 the number has increased to 8,260 deaths which is an increase of approximately 39 percent. Some, who may be in denial about these troubling heroin statistics are saying, that at least, prescription medication overdoses have remained the same for a few years after spiking in 2010. Those observing these drug trends, however, want to point out that drug overdoses resulting in death cause more deaths than traffic accidents. A truly abysmal and morbid statistic that sounds too horrendous to be true, but it is and it’s something that our cousins to the south are going to have to deal with in a quick and effective manner. Not to say, of course, that we don’t have a ridiculous heroin and prescription drug problem here in Canada.

Almost half of all drug overdose deaths in the U.S. are related to prescription drug abuse. The prescription drugs most often abused are opiates, like Oxycontin and Vicodin. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, it was estimated that between the years 2002 to 2011, almost 25 million people in the U.S. were abusing prescription opiates. The NEJM reported that an analysis of prescriptions for opiates showed a decrease from 2011 through 2013,

It is a good thing to note that prescription drug abuse deaths have seen a significant decline, and the reasons for which are not unknown or simply an anomaly. There is now a better understanding among the medical community as to the potential risks of addictive behavior when it comes to these drugs, as well as more strict policies and guidelines for doctors to follow when prescribing and before prescribing opiate medications. It’s also become much more difficult to abuse prescription painkillers as drug companies are now producing the pills with built in deterrents. Such as making the drug significantly less effective if the pills are crushed or melted, which is hampering many street addicts from getting their fix from these medications.

These are indeed positive signs, but lets talk heroin again. There is no surprise when it comes to why people turn from pills to junk. Many Americans are uninsured medically, and the cost to keep up a drug habit is rising all the time. Therefore it shouldn’t shock anyone that they are taking to a much more dangerous (but significantly more potent and cheap) alternative.

The big question is what to do about the heroin problem. Not every addict can, or will receive the treatment they need to kick the habit, and police can’t arrest every addict and dealer. Drug education is a wonderful tool to use, but it often only benefits teens and young adults. The heroin problem seems to affect more desperate people who know better but simply can’t go without.

Perhaps posing the question to you, the readers, will generate some good ideas on what to do about the heroin problem. So I ask you: What should be done? Or, better yet, what can be done?



Prescription Drug Abuse May Be Down, But Heroin Overdoses Are on The Rise. What Is to be Done?