Heroin and opioids are still among the most popular illicit drugs being taken on the street today, however heroin is still top of the charts when it comes to being the most fatal, particularly due to the recent boom in cocaine and fentanyl abuse.
This is because heroin is being increasingly cut with both of these drugs, and people are overdosing on them at alarming rates. That’s because the materials used for the cutting are half as expensive but twice as powerful, like fentanyl. In 2015 alone, 10 people died in Pennsylvania every day from drug overdoses, and a heroin mixture was more often than not the culprit. The total number of people who died in Pennsylvania in 2015 from drug overdoses was 30 percent higher than the usual number.
What’s sad, though, is that many users actually seek out heroin mixtures because they know they are infinitely more powerful than heroin by itself. So they are not just putting themselves at risk by accident, but they are eagerly willing to try. And fentanyl is so dangerous in particular because it acts as a powerful suppressant on the user’s respiratory system.
Taking illicit fentanyl is one of the most dangerous things a drug user can do. While heroin is still the number-one killer, fentanyl is viciously fighting to take the top spot. And a third of all fentanyl overdoses were a result of the user taking the fentanyl in a combination with heroin.
Interestingly, the majority of heroin and opioid overdose victims are white males, while the majority of cocaine overdose victims tend to be black. Cocaine overdose is on the rise again as well, with a 40 percent increase over the course of 2015.
Compass Mark prevention specialist Amy Sechrist points out that drug trends tend to rise and fall with different drugs all the time, so it’s difficult to attack and eliminate one drug in particular. What’s popular today may not be popular tomorrow, so you think you’ve gotten a handle on it, but then the drug that fell in popularity rises yet again down the line, and the drug that is popular now will be less so. It makes the war on drugs a tough one to fight.
As Sechrist notes, the real problem is not in the particular drug itself but with the addiction. No matter what drug the user chooses to shoot up, snort, or smoke, the real issue is the user’s brain affliction. However, Sechrist makes the great point that treating drug addiction has such a stigma attached to it because the symptoms that accompany addiction make it look like more of a social problem, rather than a disease, like when a user turns to crime or violence, or when users transmit disease amongst themselves.
This is why it is so frustrating when a drug abuser receives jail time, rather than the therapy and additional help they need in order to overcome their addiction. Once they can beat the addiction, their behavior will (usually) naturally reform. You have to cut the head off of the problem - it does nothing to attack its tentacles.