Heroin Use on The Rise: The Growing Opioid Crisis in America

criminal defense lawyer in pennsylvaniaYou may have read recent headlines or heard news reports about the opioid crisis exploding in the United States. The statistics are staggering. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans younger than 50, and opioids are mostly to blame. In fact, drug overdoses recently claimed more lives than car accidents or guns. In addition to these numbers, research shows other frightening facts:

  • The number of first-time heroin users has nearly doubled since 2004.
  • In 2016, nearly a million Americans reported using heroin in the past year.
  • While heroin use is declining among teenagers, use in young adults ages 18 to 25 is growing.

In the first nine months of 2018, Chester County, home of West Chester, saw 54 arrests for opioids, while Philadelphis logged 106.

Among the key contributing factors to the current rise in heroin use is the over-prescription of pain pills, and the addictive nature of these drugs. Patients regularly become addicted when using prescribed opioids, and when those drugs become too expensive or impossible to legally obtain, they turn to street options, such as heroin.

Opioids are a class of several drugs with various names, so while overdoses of some types of opioids have leveled off since 2011, fatalities from heroin and fentanyl use are rising quickly. Opioid overdose is an issue in every state and in every type of community. However, some states, including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, have a disproportionate public crisis where fentanyl contributes to half of all overdose deaths.

Unexpected Group of Users

People may assume that high school and college students experimenting with drugs lead the statistics for accidental overdoses. Others may believe it is really just a problem among the poor, or people who are already addicted to alcohol and other controlled substances. Yet, those stereotypes are not accurate. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a sharp rise in heroin use among women, people in higher income brackets, and the privately insured. The people in these demographics have historically been among the lowest rate of drug users, and therefore at a lesser risk for overdose. As the opioid epidemic continues to rise, this is no longer true and more and more people are falling victim to addiction.

A Painful Problem

Addiction rarely happens overnight. In cases like suburban moms, it may start innocently with a prescription for pain from an injury, surgery, or chronic condition, such as joint inflammation. The issue with opioids is that they become more addictive over time, and people who use opioids develop an increasing tolerance and therefore require more and more in order to achieve the same level of relief. As a result, opioid users become trapped in a devastating cycle, with many people becoming vulnerable to addiction without realizing it until it is too late.

Finding a Solution

If you or a loved one have become addicted to opioids and are now dealing with related legal issues, get the help you need. Addiction is a disease and should be treated by medical and mental health professionals, and your legal problems should be dealt with by an experienced defense lawyer. Contact the Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or online and schedule a free consultation and review of your case.

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