“It Doesn’t Start With The Needle”
For anyone who has been through heroin addiction or knows someone who has, they know the above statement to be true. There’s a heavy stigma associated with every kind of drug addiction, but perhaps none more so than heroin. There’s a common misconception that people who try heroin for the very firm time grab a syringe and shoot it.
Not typically or necessarily true.
In fact, DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt says with heroin use and abuse at epic levels throughout the country, “80 percent of new heroin users started by using opioid prescription drugs.” That’s correct – the majority of heroin users didn’t start with the illegal drug, they started with completely legal pills.
Not only are four out of five heroin users starting with prescription painkillers – but many people who are misusing medication, including prescription opioids, got their first dose by using drugs prescribed to other people.
These “other” people weren’t necessarily selling the pills either. Often times, it starts out much more in a much more innocent manner: Pills are taken from a cabinet in the bathroom, or pills are given to a friend to help with a short-term problem (“Your shoulder hurts? Take one of these, my doctor gave me them for my back – they really help.”) Often times these pills are no longer being used by the original prescribed person.
Prescription Drug Abuse
Alarming numbers were released last month in the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 6.4 million Americans 12 years and older now abuse prescription drugs. The same National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated that 2,500 teens take a prescription drug to get high for the first time – each and every day.
Prescription drug abuse now surpasses the abuse of cocaine, heroin, mushrooms, LSD, meth, and mescaline combined. That means prescription drug misuse has become our country’s fastest-growing drug problem.
Medications no longer being taken by the original patient can pose unnecessary dangers to families, as well as family or friends visiting the homes. For example, the US FDA has received over 30 reports of accidental exposure to the very powerful painkiller, Fentanyl found in patches. Reports show that 12 of these accidental exposures resulted in hospitalization – while another 12 resulted in death.
Drug Take-Back Day
With growing concern over both accidental exposure and the growing epidemic of abuse, misuse, addiction and overdose of opioids in the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative has become an important event.
The DEA will host the semi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, October 27, 2018. In events nationwide, the DEA will focus on providing a safe, easy and responsible way for the general public to dispose of prescription drugs – and learn why the misuse, abuse and addiction to these medications can have dire implications.
Stats from the 2017 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day:
- Total law enforcement participation: 4,274
- Total collection sites: 5,321
- Total weight collected: 912,305 pounds
To find a National Prescription Drug Take-Back collection site near you, click here.