Heroin addiction can be a devastating problem and the scourge of heroin abuse has been growing especially among teens and adolescents in the U.S. With the rise in availability of cheap heroin on the streets, more young people are exposed to the drug and have a greater risk of becoming addicted. Teens are able to buy bags of heroin for as little as $6 or $7 and they quickly become dependent on the drug.
Young people have a higher risk for developing addiction because they are exposed to the drugs earlier when their brains are still in the process of maturing. They are more vulnerable to the physical effects of drugs and anyone who begins their drug use in adolescence is more likely to struggle with addiction than someone who is first exposed in their adulthood.
Availability of Illegal Drugs
Teens in junior high and high school are exposed to drugs throughout their adolescents through friends and peers who are involved in substance abuse. It is not uncommon for teens to begin their drug use with something like marijuana or alcohol before it escalates into more addictive and dangerous drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
By the time they graduate high school nearly 40% of all teens have tried marijuana. Children are also increasingly coming into contact with illegal drugs with 9.5% of youths who are currently illegal drug users. The image of a heroin addict is continuing to change. A person addicted to heroin is no longer a homeless junkie collapsed in an alley- it could be a child of twelve in middle school who shows no traces of their addiction.
Because there are many ways to obtain it and a variety of ways to use the drug, heroin has become more prevalent among teens than ever before. In the past decade the number of teenagers who have used heroin at some point in their lives increased by 300%. High school kids have a unique risk for experiencing heroin abuse and the consequences associated with it.
Prescription Opiates- Gateway to Heroin
Young people in their adolescent years are more likely exposed to heroin by taking it in ways other than injection. It may be an easier introduction to smoke or inhale the drug rather than using a needle when they first begin abusing heroin.
The non-injection method can make taking heroin seem less dangerous but it is just as addictive and risky for teens to use. Adolescents may also get involved in heroin abuse by being introduced first to prescription opiates.
Taking painkillers can give them a similar high to using heroin and many teens make the switch to street heroin because it is cheaper and easy to get a hold of. Prescription pain pills cost as much as $20 to $60 dollars a bottle while heroin can cost anywhere from $3 to $10 a bag. Teens may begin snorting heroin as a cheaper alternative and once they become addicted, they often start injecting it as well.
Once teens start using heroin, the risk for overdose is especially high. In 2009, 510 teens died from a heroin overdose, up from 198 in 1999. The rise in prescription drug abuse has made heroin addiction an especially common problem among adolescents.
Unfortunately, teens are more vulnerable to addiction in general and opiates are some of the most addictive drugs available. More drugs are circulating in middle schools and high schools throughout the U.S. and it becomes harder for teens to avoid exposure to illegal drugs. Parents need to be especially attentive to teens to prevent them from develop an issue with drug abuse while they are in school.