Heroin has seen an explosion in use throughout Long Island in New York. In a situation that can only be described as an epidemic across the city, addiction counselors are now seeing users from middle-income, suburban families as young as twelve. Reasoning points to several factors behind this escalation, among those being access to various public transportation outlets, as well as a recent tightening on the dispensation of prescription painkillers, which has driven more adolescents to seek out cheaper substitutions with greater availability – enter heroin.
A derivative of morphine, heroin is known in the medical world as diamorphine, and is commonly administered as a treatment for severe pain experienced in cases such as heart attacks or other severe injuries. The opioid was originally synthesized by English researcher Charles Romley Adler Wright. The process involved combining acetyl groups with morphine, which is derived from the opium poppy, a species of plant from which the origins of many other narcotics can be traced.
On the illegal side of the drug, the far more common name heroin comes into play, along with a variety of other colloquial names, such as smack, skag, H, junk, or horse. The freebase form of heroin, which also has the ability to be smoked due to its low boiling point, was widely available from Afghanistan, where roughly 87% of the global supply was sourced from. Mexico closely follows as the second large supplier of raw opium, as a result of production rates rising six-fold between 2007 and 2011. According to statements from the Drug Enforcement Administration, there has been a 232 percent increase in the amount of heroin seized annually at the southwest United States border.
The explosion of heroin use in Long Island is not just limited to the state, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that deaths related to overdosing on heroin have escalated by 45 percent between 2006 and 2009. Among these deaths, there has been a shift in the number attributed to those between the ages of 15 and 24. Areas such as the Long Island Expressway have seen the worst of these developments, and one official now regards it as the “Heroin Highway.”
Reports from the BBC show that the United Nations estimates the global users of natural and synthetic drugs to be over 50 million as of 2005, with between 15 and 21 million of these users aged between 15 and 64. Appeal of its recreational use comes from feelings of intense euphoria, general safety, and relief from pain that are experienced following heroin’s introduction into the body. This respite is a heavy motivator behind developing an addiction to the drug, and estimations classify almost a fourth of users as also being addicts. Due to human body’s ability to quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, users are eventually driven to pursue higher and higher amounts in order to pursue effects experienced during early stages of use.
The numbers observed from the explosion of heroin users in Long Island has reached record levels in the last two years, with arrests by the DEA up by 163 percent in the past year. Jeff Reynolds, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says that even the spotlight placed on drugs by the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman won’t be enough to quell the surging number of overdose cases. Many parents do not suspect in the least that their child may be the victim of a secret drug addiction, as the majority of users come from loving homes with strong academic and extracurricular backgrounds. Successful steps to overcoming these addictions include long-term inpatient rehabilitation services, and a strong support system following the completion of a program to prevent the event of a relapse.
By Darrell Purcell
Above The Influence