Heroin Epidemic Part 2: A Self Correcting Problem

Sadly, this is a very true situation. Eventually if the heroin user continues using they will become addicted. The end result is an early death either due to overdose or ‘natural’ death due to the many diseases that comes with addiction to harmful chemicals. These include Hepatitis B or C, Renal failures, auto accidents due to intoxication, and HIV/AIDS.

The downward spiral begins almost immediately with the first usage. Heroin creates such a euphoric state that it draws the user into ever increasing dosages.

Some will argue that these are really good people that went bad. My observations over time has been that they are not really nice people. They are entitled, selfish and self-centered.          If they were so nice you wouldn’t find needles in the children’s playgrounds.  These are the people that rob and steal from their family members, telling great lies to get the money needed to score a bag. These are the people that are breaking into your cars and houses, and will resort to arming themselves so they can hold-up anyone that appears to have more money than them. They were coddled, not allowed to experience disappointment or made to work for rewards. Personally, I think we can trace this back 30 years or so when it became ‘politically correct’ to give everyone a trophy, there were no longer tryouts everyone made the team, no one won as no score was kept. Then once they became of age to go out in the world they found out soon enough that the rest of the world was in fact keeping score.

The downward spiral is well along the way once they get arrested for the crimes they are committing. The arrests then make it hard for the addict to recover as they now have a record making it hard to get a job. This is a topic that needs more time but our current criminal justice system makes no allowance for good behavior after a crime. Even after the criminal has served his penalty he is punished further by having this follow him/her forever. I suggest Judges set a period of time after the penalties are paid that the arrest will stay open. If they remain crime free during this timeframe their record is sealed from public view.

So where do we go from here? Treatment centers are called for but what is the actual success rate?  It appears that very few stop on the first admission. It usually takes a number of admissions before any real progress is made, and then it is still just a small number that can return to their city or town and stay clean. When allocating money for heroin treatment perhaps it makes more sense to consider this a jobs program for the underemployed social service workers.

Why do treatments fail? Obviously the allure of euphoria is hard to deny, but there are other reasons as well. Many of these addicts see treatment center workers as a bunch of hypocrites, who proselytize to the addicts in treatment all the while going home using alcohol, pot or prescription drugs of many varieties. Then there is the desire to feel alive, live dangerously. They find it fulfilling to beat the cops, driving right by them while high as a kite and holding some quantity of drugs. It is thrilling to go deep into the inner city in the dangerous neighborhoods and score a bag and get out alive.

One has to wonder what a ‘straight’ social service worker can possible say to an addict to get them to stop if the threat of imminent death isn't enough?  That is why this is a self-correcting problem, eventually the addict will become so sick or experience a sudden death from overdosing removing them from the ranks of the addicted.

From my experience it is certainly emotionally draining to have a drug addict in the family. Emotions run high and low like a roller coaster ride of emotion. One emotion that is not readily admitted to but is certainly there in almost all overdose or deaths due to complications of drug use is relief. Relief that this is finally over and the family members, relatives and friends can once again start living their lives.