Heroin abuse in the U.S. is on the rise, especially among youth, according to a recent report by the center for disease control. What’s causing this increase? An upward surge in addiction to opioids, or pain killer medications.
“There’s more and more people that are being diagnosed with chronic pain type conditions, because of our aging population and because our medical treatment has advanced. So, one of the primary treatments of choice are pain pills,” Says Dr. Hogan.
Dr. Hogan also says that people often become addicted to pain killers due to their pleasant side
“Pain killers actually block the perception of pain. And they also elevate a chemical in our brain called dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for a sense of euphoria, and pleasure, and a sense of well being. So human beings really like that effect.” He explained.
People addicted to pain killers may soon turn to heroin to feed their habit. Hogan adds that the heroin that’s now being sold on the streets is also more potent than ever before.
“They are making it very pure. They’re wanting to send out pure heroin because that’s going to create addiction and dependence quicker. It’s going to be creating a better customer for them.” Hogan added.
In February, President Obama proposed $1.1 billion in funding to address this national epidemic. Medical providers have taken action as well.
“They’re providing contracts that if for some reason they do a drug screen, and the individual that are prescribing pain medications are positive for any type of illicit drugs, then they may cut them off or change them to a different medication.” He said.
Hogan encourages people to seek help from a treatment center if they suspect that someone they know is addicted to heroin or pain killers.
“Treatment does work. For someone that has a dependence or addiction, detox is primary,” Hogan said. “And of course when some has a dependence or addiction, that is not just behavioral problem, that is a medical problem. So medical detox is absolutely warranted. And then of course we want them to experience or participate in a treatment program. Then we can go from there.”