Heroin abuse is primarily viewed as a public health issue that affects a vast majority of the American population. The crackdown of prescribed opiates during the 21st century, coupled with the cheapness and availability of heroin, is responsible for the surging numbers of heroin users. As such, heroin is a 21st-century scourge that affects most of the white population and is responsible for many deaths resulting from overdose. The majority of people dying are those in hospitals’ waiting lists for treatment. Heroin is a 21st century scourge mostly affecting the white population, responsible for many deaths resulting from drug overdose, and can be mitigated by setting-up treatment centers, enhancing community empowerment, and youth sensitization.
Is Heroin 21st-Century Scourge?
Heroin is a scourge because of the social and economic implications of its use. Heroin users are less productive in society because of the severe health-related problems associated with heroin use. Heroin overdose also leads to premature deaths. Jiang et al. outline that the drug-related hospitalizations deny heroin users the opportunity to contribute to societal development as they cannot accomplish manufacturing or service sector tasks. Consequently, most of heroin users register decline in their level of performance at work due to increased rates of absenteeism and onset of stress making them lose focus on company goals. Besides, heroin is seen as a scourge because it is associated with high cases of criminal activities like robbery and destruction of property. Jiang et al. further affirm that the use of drugs forces addicts to find alternative methods of funding their drug use, some of which may involve violent acts. Additionally, heroin is a scourge because its use, particularly injections, is linked to myriad chronic infections like hepatitis and tuberculosis. These chronic diseases implicate substantial treatment costs, further burdening a family or community.
How Can It Be Stopped?
There are diverse ways of mitigating and managing heroin use and its impacts on addicts. Foremost, state governments can enact laws that give immunity to whistleblowers who report victims of drug addiction or overdose. The strategy can encourage people to report heroin use without worrying about being linked to potential crimes. Community empowerment is another strategy that can help fight the heroin scourge. Hawk et al. report that local communities can be funded so that they can stock adequate naloxone to reverse the effects of heroin overdose (237). This drug can equally be made available to emergency health professionals and community clinics. Consequently, programs that send drug addicts involved in minor criminal offenses to treatment centers instead of jails can be put in place to foster desired behaviors among the youth. Treatment centers help the heroin addicts to learn about dangers of drug abuse, and if they successfully complete their treatment, they can desist from drug abuse having learnt about desired social ideals like being responsible members of the society. Finally, involving community stakeholders, such as school management heads, can promote open discussions relating to drug use among the youth. The students, for example, learn about the dangers of drug use from documentaries broadcasted in schools or social centers within communities.
Who Is Most Affected?
The white population is the most affected by the heroin pandemic of the 21st century. Per Wiltz, the availability of cheap and easily accessible heroin has attracted many white men and women living in suburban neighborhoods to use heroinMoreover, about 90 percent of the people who tried heroin for the first time in the last decade were white (Wiltz n.p.) It essentially means that heroin use has changed from the previous association with minority communities to one that is widespread across expansive geographical location inhabited by the white population. The most people involved in the scourge are white men and women aged above 25 years old who reside in the outskirts of large urban neighborhoods.
Why Is It Happening?
The heroin scourge is happening because the white persons previously addicted to prescription opiates find heroin as a cheaper substitute. Wiltz avers that law enforcement agencies have discouraged the use of opiates and conducted crackdowns on prescription opiates, which the people could easily and conveniently find from pharmacists or friendly health workers. There is a surge in the number of people using heroin because they cannot access the prescription opiates they were accustomed to. Furthermore, the increase in the number of white population abusing heroin is blamed on the politicians encouraging the medicinal and recreational use of heroin. Wiltz reports that about 24 states have enacted laws that authorize the use of naloxone, a drug that helps reverse the negative effects of heroin overdose. Wiltz further claims that the state of Ohio made naloxone drug available without prescription. It means that there is a tendency to abuse heroin with the guarantee that naloxone can reverse the negative effects associated with an overdose. The guarantee offered by naloxone and the availability of heroin has increased the number of the white people using and abusing heroin.
The problem of drug abuse is a significant public health and social issue. Although certain drugs are legal, I believe that people should strictly follow doctors’ prescription when using drugs. People tend to have problems with drug use regardless of age, gender, and race. I have witnessed many people use drug for the first time and become addicted to it. People who use drugs for the first time do it to experiment the recreational value of these drugs out of curiosity. Other people are often lured by friends while a section of the first-time users attempt to harness ability of drugs to alleviate pain, anxiety, or depression. Many legal drugs serve the mentioned purposes. However, illegal drugs like heroin can lead a user to the abuse and addiction paths. Addicted users are most likely to die from overdose. In my opinion, there is a need for more sober institutional frameworks to mitigate heroin use. The mitigation should solely be anchored on medical research and evidence and not law. The decision by some lawmakers to authorize the use of naloxone has encouraged more people to abuse heroin in certain regions. Hence, I believe we can only succeed in the war against heroin abuse if national, state, and local stakeholders collaborate to find amicable solutions that are binding regardless of ethnicity and political interests.
The use of heroin has primarily been viewed as a 21st-century pandemic brought about by people who previously got addicted to prescribed opiates medication. With the recent crackdown on opiates, people, majorly drawn from the white population, found heroin to be a suitable substitute. The drug users have continually abused heroin to a point of overdose, which is detrimental to their health as it causes death. To mitigate the heroin scourge, the national, state, and local governments can work together to set up treatment centers to prevent deaths arising from heroin overdose. Further, stakeholders should empower communities with funds to purchase adequate naloxone drugs to reverse the effects of overdose. Finally, there is need to enhance awareness campaigns among youth and students on the dangers of abusing heroin.
Hawk, Kathryn, Vaca, Federico and D’Onofrio, Gail. “Reducing fatal Opioid overdose: Prevention, treatment and harm reduction strategies.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, Vol. 88, No. 3(2015): 235-245.
Jiang, Ruixuan, Lee, Inyoung, Lee, Todd and Pickard, Simon. “The societal cost of heroin use disorder in the United States.” PloS One, Vol. 12, No. 5(2017): e0177323. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177323.
Wiltz, Teresa. “The Changing Face of Heroin”. PEW, February, 4, 2015. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/2/04/the-changing-face-of-heroin. Accessed April 24, 2020.