When I was going to high school, it wasn’t uncommon to see people using pot in the school parking lot. And, when I got to college, marijuana was all over the place. Yet, there was a group of wealthy kids in the dorms who were into heroin. This always surprised me because they were smart, fresh faced kids. Years later, when I moved back to the suburbs of Los Angeles, I learned that there was a heroin problem among teens and young adults in my area. It was so much of a problem that there were six heroin related deaths in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2012. Luckily, so far this year, these types of deaths have been cut in half in 2013. Still, heroin is a problem and is taking far too many lives. If you think your teen would never fall into the heroin trap, think again.
The Face of Heroin
“Glee” star Cory Monteith was one of the most notable, recent drug overdose deaths. According to nbcnews.com, the 31-year-old died of an accidental “overdose of heroin and alcohol.” In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that white males in their 30s are the “new face of heroin.” Yet, this isn’t the only face of heroin. Plenty of teens in the suburbs and also rural areas are getting caught up in the heroin addiction.
Immune to Addiction
As a parent, I would like to believe that I will bring my children up to say “no to drugs.” However, peer pressure is tough in junior high, high school and college. I had several friends in high school who were considered “good kids” who fell prey to alcohol and drug use. Some of my friends even did acid or a term called “candy-flipping” (when acid is combined with another drug like ecstasy). Personally, I always felt strongly about staying away from any sort of addictive substance. My mom was vigilant about telling me to stay away from drugs too. However, all it takes is one time, one lapse in judgement and your teen could get hooked. Nevermind if your child is a good student, athlete or is involved in church. There are plenty of kids from good homes that get hooked. Unfortunately, sometimes the addiction will take their young life.
Heroin is cheaper and easier to find. In addition, according to investigations.nbcnews.com, government crackdowns on prescriptions drugs has driven users to heroin. Prescription opiates may cost “30 to $80 dollars a pill.” However, a bag of heroin might be only $10. As for why some kids get hooked, it’s probably because they don’t realize how highly addictive it is. If everyone is doing it, then what’s the big deal.
Signs of Heroin Use
When I think of a heroin user, I picture a junkie with tracks on his or her arm. Yet, this is no longer just an urban, homeless problem. Addiction.com warns to look for behavioral changes such as lying, being hostile or sleeping more. Outward changes such as weight loss, pasty skin or a runny nose (without allergies or a cold) are other signs to look for. Your child may also start wearing long sleeves and pants. Hanging out with a new group of friends or having trouble at school or with finances may be additional signs of an addiction.
It scares me a bit to know I live in an area where half a dozen kids died from heroin related overdoses last year. The next time your children are going out on Friday night, remind them that it only takes one time to become addicted to heroin.