The numbers of individuals entering inpatient drug rehab for heroin and opiate addiction continues to increase. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the opium (heroin) trade is tightly controlled by al Qaeda and the Taliban, and despite the war the efforts, the production of heroin and opium has dramatically increased – heroin is still dirt-cheap and readily purchased on the streets of Kabul and sold in short distance of military barracks. This phenomena has caused many analysts to be alarmed that our troops, reacting to the stress of war and ease of access of drugs, may develop drug habits like many of the soldiers in the Vietnam era.
The prevalence of cheap heroin has become a major issue in this country for teenagers who have begun experimenting with the drug as it is often cheaper and easier to buy than alcohol. Last year more than 46 people died from heroin overdoses in Nassau County, NY – this represents a 75 percent year over year increase. One of these individuals was Natalie Ciappa, a National Honor Society member at her high school on Long Island.
Recently, this past Wed, more than 1,000 parents gathered at a hosted forum in Smithtown, NY to voice their support and concern for the drug problem.
Directly correlated to the increase in heroin addiction has been the number of deaths by people using methadone. Many individuals who enter heroin rehab, also have tried methadone. A recent study published by the National Drug Intelligence Center (DIC indicates a 390% increase in deaths due to methadone since 1999. Increase in methadone deaths attributed to the drugs emerging popularity for use with chronic pain sufferers as well as increased diversion (stealing from legitimate sources and diverting to the street for illegal consumption).
The highest overdose rate was experienced among those between the ages of 15 – 24.
Opiate addiction or dependence which is recognized as a central nervous system disorder, can affect anyone from any walk of life. Opiate addiction is essentially what happens after someone intakes opiods such as Heroin, Oxycontin, Percocet and others for extended periods of time causing the brain to stop producing the vital chemical dopamine (the body’s natural response to pain as well as other physical activities) which in turn causes an uncontrollable urge for that person to have to ingest more of the drug they had been taking just to feel “normal”.
Opiate dependence while chemically the same as addiction more often occurs in people who have suffered from chronic or severe pain and have to be on this type of medication for an extended period of time. Normally to avoid any unpleasant effects the person’s physician will taper them off of the medication so the patient’s brain function has a chance to return to normal. Once the brain is actively producing dopamine and as long as the patient is no longer in pain, the medication is no longer medically needed.
Mountainside Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Center has been helping people recover from alcoholism for over 12 years. Located in Connecticut, just north of New York City, its national program continues to help people from all over the country.