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Your Teen

Glee Star is the New Face of Heroin Addiction

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Headlines recently announced the death of Cory Monteith, one of the stars of the TV show “Glee.” Looking at the fresh-faced young man, you’d never suspect that he struggled with alcohol and drugs. But experts say he fits the new profile of heroin users.

Many Americans are not aware of the new realities of heroin use among kids, teens and young adults. In fact, according to statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monteith largely fits the new profile of a heroin user: a white male in his 30s.

“I deal with drug users every day,” Dr. Richard Clark, an emergency room physician and director of toxicology at the University of California San Diego Medical Center, told NBC News. “The stereotypical user on the street? That’s the past as far as heroin use in the U.S. is concerned. Lots of people are using it these days – kids, teenagers, white-collar workers.”

Many of the young adults using heroin started when they were teenagers. Many of them live in suburbs and rural communities. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), documented an alarming 80 percent increase in first use of heroin among teens since 2002.

In 2009, 510 teens and young adults between 15 and 24 died of a heroin overdose, up from 198 a decade earlier.

“People think it’s totally impossible that they could know somebody who could be on that trajectory,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a research scientist at the University of Washington School of Public Health who writes frequently about heroin use. Monteith, Banta-Green said, “is what a heroin user looks like.”

Heroin is now cheaper and more plentiful than in the past. Where heroin was once obtained from the Far East and Southwest Asia, it is now transported into the U.S. from South America and Mexico making it much more affordable and easier to get. Heroin is also coming in from Afghanistan where production has steadily increased.

Why is heroin becoming popular among teens? One reason may be because the U.S. government has made a strong push to crack down on prescription opiates, a popular drug of choice among kids. Drugs like Oxycodone and other painkillers are now harder to get and more expensive. Heroin, on the other hand, is cheap and plentiful. It also packs a stronger punch or “rush.”

Heroin use dropped sharply during the height of the late 1980s-1990s AIDS crisis because drug users didn’t want to risk injections. Now, though, heroin is often snorted or smoked, giving it the same kind of ease of use, and even societal popularity that cocaine once had.

When a heroin user overdoses, they often just stop breathing. While most teen drug users are not typically going to be snorting or injecting heroin when they are in the middle of a crowd, they may be consuming a lot of alcohol. Once they get home they may decide to top off the evening with heroin. That can be a deadly combination especially when they are in their room and no one knows to check on them.

Too many parents think that their child doesn’t fit the typical heroin user stereotype. They are simply unaware that heroin is the new “in” drug and it’s in the schools, on the playgrounds and in the malls. Dealers may be kids that you’ve known since they were little.

The sad news of Cory Monteith’s death shocked his fans, friends and family. He reportedly had been struggling with alcohol and drug abuse since his early teens. After a recent stay in rehab, many thought he had licked his demons and was on the way to a true recovery. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. He made the decision to give heroin one more try and this time it killed him.

Heroin is extremely addictive. It doesn’t play favorites. It doesn’t care if you are rich, middle-class or poor. Whether you live in a mansion, a suburb or the inner city.  It treats everyone exactly the same way and it can quickly stop a heart. 

If you suspect that your child is using ANY drugs, make it your business to find out for sure. And if they are – get them the help they need to deal with whatever is causing their use. It will not make you popular, but it may save your child’s life.

Source: Brian Alexander, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/glee-stars-od-shows-new-fresh-face-heroin-6C10658371

 

Your Teen

Painkillers May be Gateway to Heroin Use in Teens

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Heroin use is increasing among U.S. adults and adolescents at an alarming rate.  The reason appears to be linked to the high cost of prescription painkillers, their addictive properties, as well as tough laws established for prescribing and purchasing opioids. Heroin is easy to get and much cheaper and it is becoming a huge problem not only for adults but teens as well.

Three-quarters of U.S. high school students who use heroin first tried narcotic painkillers, a new survey reveals.

Survey results from nearly 68,000 high school seniors provide some clues to heroin's recent deadly path from the inner city into affluent suburbs and rural communities.

"The more times a teen uses non-prescribed painkiller pills, the greater the risk he or she is at for becoming dependent on the drug," said lead researcher Joseph Palamar, an assistant professor of population health at New York University.

"People who become dependent on painkiller pills often wind up resorting to heroin use because it's cheaper and more available than these pills," Palamar explained.

Researchers say that white students appear more likely than black or Hispanic students to start with painkillers and then move on to heroin.

Recent and frequent nonmedical painkiller use increased the odds that kids had tried heroin: More than 77 percent of teens who reported using heroin had also used narcotic painkillers, also called opioids, Palamar said.

And almost one-quarter of kids who said they'd taken narcotic painkillers more than 40 times also reported heroin use.

Palamar believes updating drug education programs will help. But kids need to get the message that these drugs put them at risk for addiction and overdose death, he said.

"The biggest problem is that many teens don't trust drug education in schools or information provided by the government," Palamar said.

Adolescents are particularly difficult to persuade that drug use can get out of control quickly. For decades, the government has taught that marijuana is just as dangerous as heroin.  Many Americans now believe that marijuana use is not dangerous and four states have legalized recreational use with others considering it.

Palamar notes that narcotic painkillers present an especially complicated situation.

"Most other drugs are illegal in all contexts, yet these drugs -- the most dangerous drugs -- are prescribed by doctors and are often sitting there in parents' medicine cabinets," Palamar said. "If teens don't believe warnings about street drugs, then why would they be afraid to use government-approved, pharmaceutical-grade pills?"

Palamar's recommendation: "We need to educate our educators, and then we need to start giving more honest and accurate information to our teens because what we're doing now isn't working."

Drug education teachers are sometimes less informed than their students "who might have learned from experience or from friends who use," he said.

The study data came from the 2009-2013 Monitoring the Future surveys. These annual questionnaires assess the behaviors, attitudes and values of students in 130 public and private U.S. high schools.

The report appeared recently in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Source: Steve Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20151229/painkillers-often-gateway-to-heroin-for-us-teens-survey

 

 

 

 

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