There has been an unusual rash of reported overdoes and deaths of late related to "bad heroin". Unfortunately, this misnomer fuels misconceptions of drug abuse as an extremely isolated event among individuals who are far removed from the mainstream. The reality is that drug abuse is a "main-stream" problem with its prevalence more ominous than what is known by most. There is no such thing as good heroin that can assuage our fears vs bad heroin. The headlines reporting the latest scourge in our neighborhoods is related to an apparent form of heroin that is laced with fentanyl which is an extremely powerful opiate. And so this " bad batch" serves only one good purpose if there is a silver lining here, and that is it is illuminating how common drug abuse is.
There are many institutional failures in our society which buttresses drug abuse. The two most obvious ones are family and schools. We are all charged with the responsibility to counsel our children about the dangers of drug abuse and other substances and we should expect well defined programs of education and even interventions in our schools. When these two fail in a child's life, no private or government program is sufficient to save a life. But the least known area of failure and one that I would argue is the true "front line" is our health care providers where there are two points where medicinal drugs are distributed; our doctor's offices and pharmacies.
There is widespread abuse supported by our medicinal distribution system where doctor's under pressure from their patients dole out Oxycondin, vicodin and percocet for marginally indicated purposes. Add to that the economic demands of revenue producing activities such as reimbursements and patient retention and a dangerous, unethical cocktail of societal regress occurs.
This is the beginning of drug abuse in this nation for many.
Heroin which is readily available is often introduced later in a prescription -abusers cycle. The reason is most often an economic one. Prescription drugs cost typically $1.00 per milligram for a 30 to 80 milligram pill. Whereas, heroin obtained with $5 and $10 bags and in pure forms can deliver incredible highs for far less money. The pure form also enable many to snort it instead of injecting it , creating a false sense of security since this method of ingestion is considered "cleaner".
Therefore, the abuse of prescription drugs is a primary source of drug abuse . For many, "Chasing the Dragon" , the term used in describing the craving of heroin addicts seeking to repeat their highs is based on the transition from prescription drugs to heroin as a necessity to sustain their habits in more affordable terms. .
Public policy directed to providing more regulations and inevitably, greater consequences for caregivers in the liberal dispensing of addictive prescription drugs is essential. We can do everything possible in our families, schools and drug intervention centers to help those afflicted, but if we do not curb the abuse in our medicinal distribution system the problem will continue to spiral to crises proportions.