Heroin Epidemic

Caden Kallas, Features Section Editor

Heroin epidemic in Sacramento

In the past seven years, the popularity of heroin has skyrocketed in California and shows no signs of slowing down. In 2013, California hospitals treated more than 11,500 patients suffering from an opioid  or heroin overdose — that is one patient every 45 minutes. Since 2006, the heroin use in California has gone up by 80 percent .

Why heroin is becoming popular

Heroin isn’t only becoming popular in California, but through the entire United States. It doesn’t matter if someone is old or young, people find this drug easy to obtain, cheap and are getting hooked on it.

According to The Washington Post, experts say the cause of this heroin epidemic is the prescription drug epidemic. Over the last 15 years, prescription drugs have become a source of addiction for Americans everywhere. Since prescription drugs were easily accessible, this caused a huge demand for the drugs.

The government then became strict in supplying those prescription drugs, so many addicts had to find something new and easier to get heroin.

Not everyone switched because the government became more strict; others chose to switch because they wanted something to give them a better high. The result was many people found heroin to offer a better high, much less expensive, and more readily available than prescription drugs. 

Side effects

There are many short and long term side effects to heroin use. Some of the short-term effects could be diarrhea, fever, cramps, headache, sweating, dilation of pupils, watery eyes and anxiety. Some of the long-term effects are heart problems, liver disease, chronic pneumonia or other pulmonary diseases, seizures, blood clots or arthritis.

However, most of the hardcore, long-term heroin users will die by the time they are in their 40s or 50s. This is because the actual lifespan of a hardcore heroin is addict is about 15 to 20 years old,” according to the DRS (Drug Rehab Services of California).

Heroin changes addict’s physical appearance. Their face and body start to get skinnier and their skin wrinkles. However, not only does the body change physically, but so does the mind. All focus becomes dedicated to  how and when the addict is going to get the next bag. Drug addicts begin to hurt their families emotionally, struggle financially and lose their jobs, and in most cases, the way people acquire this drug eventually gets them in trouble with the law.

“Some of the signs we saw in our son were that he went from being super outgoing and friendly, to being very introverted. He stopped wanting to spend time with his family and wouldn’t tell his parents the truth,” said an anonymous family member of an addict.

Becoming sober

Many drug addicts can see the negative impacts of their drug use in their lives but tell themselves they are too addicted to change or get help. Family members can play a huge role in recognizing the problem and help them immediately by contacting different clinics or rehab centers. There are hundreds of clinics and institutions that specialize in helping with drug addiction.

For a list of drug rehab centers in the Sacramento Area visit: http://www.addicted.org/sacramento-addiction-treatment-servcies.html