Drug abuse is not just limited to the inner city. The suburbs are no longer a safe haven. Drug use is not only increasing, but the number of drugs being used and abused is also on the rise. Here are a few facts to consider involving current drug trends:
The Rise of Heroin
A legislative task force found that heroin use among Illinois high school students is an issue across the state, affecting students as young as the eighth grade. From 2011-12, the deaths related to heroin use rose from 26 to 42 in DuPage County, from 30 to 53 in Will County, from nine to 16 in McHenry County, and from nine to 27 in Kane County. In just the month of July in 2013, DuPage County saw 11 people fatally overdose on heroin. The youngest was a 15-year-old kid. In 2014 in Lake County, there were over 20 overdoses and deaths recorded. 17 kids admitted to the use of heroin at Lake Forest High School. Overall, heroin use has increased nationwide over the last decade. Results from a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) shows that heroin-related deaths rose from 0.7 per 100,000 people to 2.7 per 100,000 people within three years (Time, 2015).
Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse has become a huge problem. Four out of five users begin their drug use with prescription drugs. Use and abuse of prescriptions for pain is frequently the starting point. Many well-intentioned doctors over-prescribe pain meds, such as prescribing 30 days of oxycontin for a minor surgery. In 2014, the CDC reported that doctors wrote 259 million painkiller prescriptions in a single year, or, in other words, the equivalent of one bottle of pills for every American. From the early 2000s through the next decade, the number of people who used painkillers stronger than morphine increased from 175 to 37%. 50-70% of all people have a genetic predisposition to addiction. Once addicted, they look to the streets, as heroin is cheaper than prescription drugs and doesn’t require a prescription. Almost 50 Americans die each day from a prescription painkiller overdose (Time, 3/4/15). In 2013, approximately 16,235 people died from painkillers (Buzzfeed, 3/3/15).
Another issue is America’s love affair with amphetamines. In 2013, manufacturers of prescription stimulant drugs produced enough pills to provide more than two dozen 20 mg Adderall pills for every person in the U.S. Although the U.S. comprises less than 4.5% of the world’s population, we produce 70% of its legal amphetamines. Experts estimate that approximately 1/3 of the stimulants prescribed in the U.S. are diverted for illegal misuse (USA Today, 5-12-15). Just about any college student can tell you how easy it is to obtain Adderall without a prescription.
Prescription drug abuse causes other health issues. In fact, rates of Hepatitis C have risen dramatically. Almost 73% of Hepatitis C patients said they injected drugs, which can cause the virus to spread when needles are shared among different users (USA Today, 5-8-15).
Synthetic Drug Spike
Synthetic drugs are another issue of concern. It is estimated that 20% of drug users used synthetic drugs (Business Insider, 5-1-15). A number of synthetics come from China and are now mixed with heroin (Phentenal). This combination can be lethal. Synthetic marijuana is also known as spice. Spice packets are frequently sold in gas stations as incense or potpourri and labeled “not for human consumption.” Users smoke the contents, which are usually some kind of synthetic drug sprayed on plant leaves. In April of 2015, numerous calls were received around the country from people having an adverse reaction to spice. In New York alone, more than 160 people having such a reaction were seen in a nine-day period. Over an 18-day period, Alabama had 317 spice related emergency room visits. It is not uncommon for spice to contain LSD and/or PCP.
Flakka, made from the chemical alpha-PVP, is another recent addition to the illicit drug market. Flakka often causes users to display enormous strength, but also causes rage and hallucinations. Flakka was banned by the DEA in 2014. Flakka is a stimulant with mild hallucinatory effects. Even slightly more than the recommended dose can trigger severe adverse effects.
Most recently, Ecstasy containing PMMA, a synthetic stimulant drug, caused a number of deaths in Britain and is suspected of having also caused the death of people in Florida and Illinois. PMMA causes dangerous increases in body temperature and blood pressure. It has been described as the perfect overdose drug.