Heroin epidemic surges among young people

One of the hardest drugs known has sunken its teeth in to some of the most vulnerable.


Caitlyn Grcich, Managing Editor

You’ve seen it on the news. You’ve seen it on Facebook Live videos. You’ve maybe even seen it in real life. The heroin epidemic that has taken over the teenagers and young-adults of this country.

Heroin, considered to be one of the hardest illegal drugs known to man, has made strides with young people. It has garnered popularity with the fact that it is cheaper than most other drugs, and it is more accessible than drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy. It is also the next step up from opioid drugs.

According to an article published in the New York Times, 90% of first-time heroin users are white, with the CDC finding “significant increases in heroin use found in groups with historically low rates of heroin use, including women and people with private insurance and higher incomes. The gaps between men and women, low and higher incomes, and people with Medicaid and private insurance have narrowed in the past decade”.

Despite drugs normally go through trends of surges in popularity; LSD (acid) in the 1960’s, marijuana in the 1970’s, cocaine and ecstasy dominating the 1980’s and 1990’s, and even a synthetic form of marijuana, referred to as spice, in the early to mid 2000’s. Heroin has quickly become the hottest drug around within the past five to seven years.

While both government and police forces have been trying to combat the issue of heroin usage, there has been little to no leeway. When there was a record 12,990 deaths related to heroin use, there is cause for concern. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, of the 20.5 million Americans age 12 and over that had a substance abuse disorder, 591,000 has a substance abuse disorder involving heroin.

In 2015, an estimated 21,000 adolescents had used heroin in the past year, and an estimated 6,000 were regular users of heroin.

For young and old alike, heroin is a definite threat. When it is more readily available than some over-the-counter products, it is a huge issue. While the use of heroin among young people is being combated with awareness programs, drug education through organizations like D.A.R.E. and it is being openly discussed, it still may not be enough.