Heroin addiction and opiate addiction continues to be one of the most serious and rapidly growing problems facing communities across the entire country. Heroin is perhaps the most addictive narcotic known to substance abuse experts, and it also causes severe damage to the body and places users at an alarmingly high risk for death by overdose. Sadly, communities everywhere are witnessing a rise in the number of heroin overdose deaths in their area, and Ocean County in New Jersey is one of the many areas struggling with this devastating problem. In light of recent spikes in deaths in the Ocean County area, where fatalities related to heroin overdose have doubled in the last year, local law enforcement and public health officials organized an event aimed at speaking about the dangers of heroin. This event was headlined by music legend Richie Sambora, who spoke with optimism about the fact that he believes deaths related to heroine abuse can be prevented.
Sambora’s Own Struggles With Addiction
Perhaps one reason that Sambora was so eager to discuss the topic of drug abuse and addiction is that it is a disease he himself struggles with. The musician entered rehab in 2011 in the midst of a tour and thus missed performances due to his struggles with addiction. He has also been arrested for drunk driving and has spoken candidly about his prior addiction to pain killers. Sambora has expressed gratitude for the lease on life that he has gained from sobriety, saying that he “was lucky enough to survive.”
Hope for Children
Aside from feeling compelled to push for change because of the positive impact recovery has had on his own life, Sambora voiced the opinion, shared by many parents in the audience, that it is vital that the epidemic of heroin and opiate addiction be stopped because they owe their children a chance at a healthy future. Teens are among the population that has been hardest hit by recent spikes in heroin deaths. One mother in the crowd watching Sambora spoke out about her own child’s devastating brush with heroin. Her teen son had been rendered unable to speak or feed himself after losing oxygen to the brain while choking on his own vomit during a heroin overdose. Stories like these have tragically been echoed by many parents and teachers across the country, and activists like Sambora and the law enforcement agency who helped organize the event have been pressing to find ways to keep children out of harm’s way by educating them about the dangers of drugs and working to eradicate the existence of heroin on the black market.
Heroin Addiction is a Complicated Problem
The process of making the world a safe place by eliminating the availability of deadly narcotics is a very complicated one and will require the cooperation of people from all walks of life. Parents like Sambora who are intent on keeping their teens safe can help by speaking frankly about the dangerous nature of the drug and working to make sure that their child has a high self image and feels a sense of confidence and security at home. Law enforcement agents are working to find the dealers and distributers who are bringing narcotics into their neighborhoods, and doctors and pharmacists are working to make sure that all physicians and pharmacists have the information they need to assess whether a patient is potentially addicted to opiates. It is also vital that society as a whole views addiction as the serious disease that it is, so that policy and public perspective encourage addicts to seek the help they need.