Heroin a Killer among Young Adults

Many people are under the impression that heroin addiction is an issue of the past; one that only affects middle aged people, or one that rarely occurs in suburban communities.

However, neighborhoods across the country are experiencing a rise in heroin addiction among teens and young adults.

One community in Wisconsin is reporting that heroin abuse is a growing problem among its teens. Heroin addiction is now the number one killer of young adults age 17-24 in the suburbs surrounding Milwaukee, according to local news station WISN12.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2012 about 669,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year,1 a number that has been on the rise since 2007.

More than half a million Americans used heroin in 2013, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released summer of 2013. That represents a nearly 150 percent increase since 2007, and the number of heroin-related overdose deaths has nearly quadrupled since 2002.

Heroin Still a Problem

Heroin was once a drug that was abused by addicts in urban areas. It was considered too dangerous by everyone but the most hardened drug addicts. Today, young people are jumping into heroin abuse, partly because they are looking for a drug that is stronger than the prescription drugs they have been abusing, and partly because the message about the dangers of heroin abuse is not being communicated well to teens today.

Parents need to remain vigilant while educating their teens about the dangers of any drug, including “old time” drugs like heroin. Above all, parents should work to keep an open relationship with their teen, and watch for any sign of drug addiction, such as a disconnect from family, a sudden drop in grades, and new acquaintances.

Parents can model healthy habits for their child, such as eating right and taking care of their bodies, and how to manage stress in a positive way. Parents should also keep all prescription medications locked up to prevent their teen from experimenting with these gateway drugs that often lead to harder substances like heroin. Parents who are involved and aware of what their child is doing with their time will be more able to help their child overcome an addiction, or prevent one from starting in the first place.