Heroin use across the country has become an epidemic. In January, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire state of the state address to the heroin crisis.
“In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us,” Shumlin said. “It threatens the safety that has always blessed our state. It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families. It requires all of us to take action before the quality of life that we cherish so much is compromised.”
His focus on heroin made national and international headlines. Less than a month later the death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman once against brought heroin use into the headlines and more recently the death of Peaches Geldof has.
Outside of those headlines, though, heroin use is a problem right here on Long Island where people struggle with addiction and recovery everyday.
Here are ten things you don’t know about heroin, but probably should.
From 1898 to 1910 heroin was marketed as a cough suppressant.
Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users in the US jumped by almost 80 percent from 373,000 to 669,000, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
About 75 percent of people who use heroin, have used prescription pain pills such as Oxycontin, Vicodin or Percocet.
There are multiple ways to use heroin, including injecting it, smoking it and snorting it.
Afghanistan produces about three-fourths of the world’s heroin, according to the Special Inspector General of Reconstruction, however, most of the heroin smuggled into the US, especially in the Northeast, comes from South America.
Heroin overdoses are reversible using a drug called Naloxone.
Signs of heroin use include shortness of breath, small pupils, hyper alertness followed by sudden drowsiness.
Five years ago, the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence served 100 families per month; now they consistently, serve more than 800, according to Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds.
The average age of LICADD’s clients has dropped from 45 to 25 since 2009, according to Reynolds.
“Because heroin has long been considered an “urban” drug, Long Island’s suburban denial gave heroin a ten-year running head start on our kids and we’ve yet to catch up,” Reynolds said.
If you or someone you know is using heroin, call the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at (516) 747-2606, right now.