Drug trends throughout Ohio for the January 2013 report of drug abuse trends in the 16 county Athens region have been released by the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network. The studies found that “black tar heroin”, a cheaper version of heroin, is on the rise and sweeping across Ohio. The CEO of the Muskingum Behavior Health Center, Steve Carrel says black tar heroin has more impurities in it and is less pure. Black tar heroin looks like black tar, which is how it got it's name, it’s just a different way of classifying it.
Over 200,000 people in the United States are classified as being addicted to heroin and there are over 1.2 million users of heroin that take the drug on occasion. In the past few years, overdoses from heroin have caused more deaths than traffic accidents. It is believed that at least 700,000 people in the United States need treatment for heroin addiction but are not receiving it. In 2009 alone there was nearly one million visits to the emergency department because of illicit drug abuse, 200,000 of which were due to heroin abuse. The habit is also expensive to maintain, it’s estimated that heroin addicts spend between $150 and $200 each day to support their addiction.
One of the reasons that heroin usage is on the rise is attributed to the crackdown on prescription painkillers that have been going on lately. Steve Carrel says painkillers and heroin have similar chemical makeup’s so the addicts have began turning to heroin to get the same high they experienced from prescription painkillers. New ways to use heroin are also been discovered by addicts. In addition to the crackdown on prescription painkillers impacting the rise in heroin use, there’s also stricter guidelines on the sales of needles and syringes, which is making it more difficult to purchase them.
These new guidelines have made it harder to obtain needles. Carrel says because of that, there has been an increase in needle sharing. Infection from injecting heroin with needles is not uncommon and can lead to various physical health problems. Some of which include respiratory failure or cardiovascular complications, other effects of heroin use can include liver disease, kidney disease and compromised respiratory failure. Although the United States only contains 4.6% of the world’s population, statistics show that it consumes as much as 80% of the world’s supply of opioids.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.