February 27, 2015 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

As the world becomes increasingly connected, as the internet becomes an increasingly important part of everyone’s daily life, the typical heroin addict is changing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I doubt the internet is the main reason the demographic of heroin addicts is changing, but I do think it plays a part. as information about heroin, painkillers, and other drugs is spread across the web, more and more nontraditional addicts are born.

The massive gentrification of American society, and the resulting massive wealth gap, also plays a part. I’m speaking from personal experience here. Growing up in a typical, boring suburban town made the allure of drugs all the greater. And no drug had a greater allure than heroin.

Of course, there’s a difference between me and many other people – I’m an addict and alcoholic. I tried anything and everything to change the way I felt. Of all the chemicals I tried, opioids did the best job.

So no, the internet and an increasingly gentrified society aren’t to blame for the recent spike in heroin addiction, but they do play a role.

What Makes a Heroin Addict?

As recently as ten to fifteen years ago, heroin addicts were thought of as homeless, mentally ill, disheveled individuals. They were all assumed to live under bridge and panhandle for money. They were assumed to be violent, or at best unstable, and beyond aid.

Today, that stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Today’s heroin addicts are largely middle class kids in their twenties and thirties. To put it another way, the millennial generation might as well be called the heroin generation. Sound a bit over the top? Well it isn’t.

Consider that among eighteen to twenty-six year olds heroin is one of the only drugs that’s increasing in use. It’s one of the most popular drugs, behind only marijuana, painkillers, and spice (synthetic cannabis).

Consider that today’s heroin is so pure users don’t need to inject it. In years past, heroin was under 10% pure. This meant the only way for heroin addicts to really “feel” the drug was via injection. With today’s heroin being around 50% pure, new users can simply snort or smoke the drug. This decreases the taboo associated with the drug and leads potential users to try it.

Of course, there’s another factor that influences potential heroin users. I’m talking, of course, about famous heroin addicts.

Famous Heroin Addicts

Heroin has a mystique of hipness around it. This is due in no small part to the many famous heroin addicts who have abused the drug. Smart, creative, attractive, and influential people have all contributed to the “sexiness” of heroin.

Don’t believe me? Think I’m making a bit of a stretch? Google “famous heroin addicts” and see what pops up. More to the point, consider that an entire fashion movement sprang up around the emaciated look common to heroin users. It was called heroin chic.

So, who are these famous heroin addicts? Well, they range from rock stars to actors to writers and beyond. Jim Morrison, William Burroughs, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, and Chris Farley all had one thing in common. They were all heroin addicts.

Their creativity was often attributed to their opioid use. This, in turn, led heroin to be thought of as some sort of artistic muse. It’s a misconception that persists to this day. I’m sure the myth of the famous heroin addict has also played a part in heroin’s booming popularity.

How to Help the New Heroin Addict

Okay, heroin is popular. That point has been driven home by this article and, more importantly, by a generation of heroin addicts. So, how can we help the “new” heroin user? How can we offer hope to those who so desperately need it?

The answer is actually rather simple. We let heroin addicts know that recovery is possible. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less.

Treatment centers need to be more than simply havens for those struggling with substance abuse. They need to be institutes in every sense of the word. They need to shout from the mountaintops that sobriety is possible for everyone.

Individuals who have successfully kicked their addiction also need to speak up. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m an individual in long-term recovery and I take every opportunity offered to make that fact known. I don’t walk around town with a sign over my head, but I don’t shy away from mentioning my past if it’ll help someone else.

With treatment centers offering a message of recovery, and with sober individuals living a message of recovery, change can’t help but come. It’s that simple my friends. I promise.

Fiona StockardWe are proud to feature this guest blog post by Fiona Stockard. Fiona has been in recovery for over 5 years and now works at a Florida addiction rehab, helping addicts recover each day by delivering her message of strength and hope.


January 26, 2015 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

From 2010 to 2011, the nation experienced its largest increase in heroin-related overdose deaths, climbing a drastic 45% in a one-year timespan. From 2010 to 2012, the number of overdose-related deaths caused by prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone dropped from 6 to 5.6 deaths per 100,000 people after quadrupling from 1999 to 2010. This slight decrease is opiate painkiller overdose may very well be attributed to increased prevalence of heroin abuse, and increased heroin abuse seems to be directly linked with previous years of narcotic opioid dependency. In a recent study conducted on heroin abusers in treatment for addiction, 75% reported having initially used prescription painkillers, claiming they eventually made the switch to heroin because it was more available, affordable, and potent than opioid prescription drugs. In complete contrast to this current trend, 80% of those that were abusing heroin in the 1960s immediately began using the drug without any distinct gateway.

Heroin Overdose Deaths on the Rise

The increasingly common transition from pharmaceutical painkillers to heroin is only partially responsible for the drastic increase in heroin overdose deaths. A major component of climbing overdose rates is the incorporation of highly injurious substances such as fentanyl and rat poison into currently circulating strains. Dealers will cut heroin with dangerous chemicals to reduce their costs and increase profit while either oblivious to or (more likely) ignoring the fact that the drugs they are selling will more likely than not kill the user on impact. Fentanyl, a painkiller that has been found to be around 100 times more powerful than morphine, is responsible for overdose deaths across the East Coast, devastating regions in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Maryland, and Rhode Island significantly.

Increase in Heroin Deaths is Preventable

Since the dramatic climb in overdose-related deaths directly linked to heroin in 2010, the annual rates of mortality have remained somewhat stagnant. Major efforts are being made to raise awareness and prevent heroin abuse by limiting the accessibility of opioid narcotic painkillers. Prescription pill “take back” events are now being hosted in cities nationwide, allowing citizens the opportunity to safely dispose of unused and expired prescriptions at local drop-box locations. In order to find a safe disposal site near you, simply search “prescription take-back” and the city in which you reside. Talk to your children about the newly emerging dangers of heroin use, and if you or someone you love shows signs of drug addiction, call one of our trained representatives today in order to explore a comprehensive list of treatment options.


January 26, 2015 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

After literal decades of intense work on developing a vaccine for heroin, chemist Kim Janda of the Scripps Research Institute has finally come exceptionally close. Numerous clinical trials of the vaccine on rats have proven that regardless of how much heroin they are injected with, the vaccine completely counteracts all symptoms of relapse and addiction. While studies have not yet been held on human subjects, the results thus far are exceedingly promising. In fact, the eventual release of this vaccine into society could affect the nation as a whole – ultimately saving quadrillions of dollars on healthcare costs. Interestingly enough, however, this is where the issue lies.

Chemist Discovers the Cure for Heroin Addiction

Pharmaceutical companies will never willingly invest in a vaccine that could potentially eliminate heroin addiction throughout the United States. Drug addiction is by far the most profitable enterprise for the American pharmaceutical corporation, bringing in billions of dollars annually. Not only do drugs like Suboxone and methadone thrive based on the continuation of widespread cases of chemical dependency, but the co-occurring disorders diagnosed by high-paid psychiatrists working for rehab centers across the country would not be nearly as lucrative if the rates of addiction began to be compromised. While it is true that many addicts and alcoholics suffer from dual diagnosis disorders such as major depression or bipolar disorder, the amount of those afflicted with mental disorders as well as substance dependency reigns in at less than half of overall cases of addiction. This may be shocking to those who have been refilling prescriptions for Lexapro and Neurontin for years after being vaguely diagnosed as anxious and depressed while completing a 30-day inpatient stint.

Pharmaceutical Companies Are Not Down With Heroin Vaccine Funding

Janda has received harshly limited funding for continued research, despite the fact that further development of this vaccine could prove essential for the renewed success of society by means of decreased future health care costs. For if heroin addiction rates began to dwindle and what has recently become widely known as an ‘epidemic’ starts to stabilize, pharmaceutical companies will have less vulnerability and desperation to prey upon. The business of addiction recovery and relapse is an absurdly profitable one – from detox centers implementing maintenance drugs that may pose the risk of addiction themselves, to inpatient facilities that hand out psychological diagnoses like candy, the industry is rich in opportunities to benefit off of dead ends and despondency. Media attention regarding such innovations lacks for similar reasons. If the general public becomes aware that there may be a vaccine for heroin addiction, the entire longstanding foundation of recovery and pharmaceutical involvement itself will be compromised.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.


December 17, 2014 Marissa ObrienAddiction0

The vast majority of addicts and alcoholics will agree that the progression of the disease of addiction is exceedingly similar regardless of which specific substance is being abused. Initially, getting high or drunk is nothing short of an awesome time. It is fun, it is pleasurable, and it is often even described as euphoric. If getting high was not a particularly enjoyable experience, one-time use would probably be far more prevalent. Unfortunately it is not, and a favorable physical feeling combined with the addictive nature of most chemical substances leads to continued use. After the excitement wears off, it is not unusual for the addict to begin physically needing a substance in order to function normally. This is when physical and mental dependency begins to settle in, and use is no longer recreational. If an individual ceases use at this stage, he or she will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. They may not be too severe at this stage, but still uncomfortable enough to deter an addict from abstaining.

The Stages of Chemical Dependency

During the early stages of physical dependency, an addict may still experience some sort of euphoric feeling when they initially get high – though this feeling will inevitably last for smaller and smaller increments of time. Soon an addict will feel little to absolutely no pleasure, and consuming his or her substance of choice will become a necessity rather than an option. At this point, drug or alcohol use loses all sense of enjoyment. It is a common misconception that those who struggle with addiction enjoy using. Even if they vehemently claim to, this is often only a defense mechanism. The body physically needs drugs in order to function or survive, thus an addict will desperately try to convince his or her loved ones that he or she has everything under control. In many instances, the loved ones of the afflicted individual will have extreme difficulty understanding why he or she cannot stop if they want to – the issue of self-will comes into play in a major way. It is a mental, physical, and emotional addiction that overwhelms all other priorities and significances.

What Can You Do To Help?

If someone you love is battling an addiction to drugs or alcohol, the first step to getting them help is being open to educating yourself on the subject. Open your mind to the fact that despite how hard they try, simply quitting is far from an option. And past a certain point, using is far more torturous than it is pleasurable. Feel free to call one of our trained representatives to find out what you can do to help.

Very few people nowadays deny the fact that heroin addiction is very real – and very dangerous. Opiate addiction has been claiming so many lives in recent years that it is essentially an inarguable fact. Those who know someone who has battled alcoholism easily conclude that alcohol is highly addictive – mental and physical dependency to the substance becomes clear as lives are continuously lost to the unrelenting disease. But weed? Weed doesn’t destroy lives – reduce once-essential members of society to pathetic, groveling street dwellers, prostituting themselves for one more joint, selling their parents’ wedding rings so they can pack just one more bowl. Marijuana doesn’t leave people emaciated and covered in sores, or so mentally deteriorated they can’t even get out of bed. Pot is cool, being a stoner is socially acceptable, and no one has ever overdosed on marijuana – ever. So there’s no danger… right?

Can You Be Addicted to Marijuana?

Actually, it has recently been scientifically proven that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction. 9% of people who use marijuana will become dependent on it. This number increases to 1 in 6 regarding those who start using marijuana at a young age (in their early teens), and between 25% and 50% of those who use on a daily basis. In 2010, 4.5 million out of the recorded 7.1 million individuals who were dependent on or abusing illicit drugs were primarily battling dependencies on marijuana. Cannabis itself is not physically addicting, though mental dependency is exceedingly prevalent, as proven by these statistics. And while true marijuana addiction is very rare, it is very real.

Withdrawing from long-term marijuana use produces symptoms similar to those caused by kicking a prolonged nicotine habit – and you have ever tried to quit smoking cigarettes you are familiar with the fact that it is no easy task. Marijuana withdrawal will likely cause irritability, intense craving, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. A week after ceasing use, aggression has been proven to increase significantly. Of course, these symptoms tend to subside on their own after a couple of weeks and pose no serious physical or psychological risk. However, for those who have been using marijuana on a daily basis for an extended period of time, symptoms may be more severe.

“Marijuana Maintenance” Is Never A Good Idea

Those individuals who are victims of what has become widely known as “inherited boredom” are far more likely to engage in daily use, develop tolerance, and thus form dependency on the drug. Adolescents who are financially well-off, who have little responsibility aside from attending school on a daily basis, tend to be the portion of the overall global population that end up eventually seeking treatment for marijuana addiction. Many addicts and alcoholics who struggle with addictions to other substances will substitute marijuana for their drug of choice, assuming that it is not addictive and thus a logical and safe alternative. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding often leads to relapse, or an eventual dependency on marijuana. When recovering from addiction, no chemical substance is safe to use. And while marijuana overdose has never lead directly to fatality, the drug can still be addictive and cause far more harm than good in the long run.

The Hope Center

The Hope Center for Rehabilitation offers a full range of services both leading up to, during and following treatment, including professional interventions, a luxury, medically assisted detox program, inpatient rehabilitation (30-90 days), intensive out-patient rehabilitation and out-patient services. Each of our clients become a part of our alumni program at the completion of their treatment to help foster a continued community of recovery.

Copyright by The Hope Center 2016. All rights reserved.