Gateway drugs. We’ve heard about them since the 60’s. “If you use marijuana, you’ll move on to using hard drugs” was one of the most common phrases I heard as a kid. Maybe it wasn’t the case for everyone, but for some it may have been true. The fact is that the introduction of narcotic prescription drugs appears to have a stronger link to heroin use than marijuana had to other drugs. It is the new gateway drug of our modern time–of our current generation.
Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet, and Even Tylenol 3: these are common painkillers dispensed by doctors to patients who have either severe or chronic pain. Often, they are prescribed to adults, but are accessible to kids at home; the temptation to try them may come from school, sports, television, music friends, curiosity, and the list goes on. Once tried, many believe they can use as much as they want without a problem, and can walk away from them if they choose to.
The opposite happens when one is unaware of the devastating addictive effects. The more they use, the more they need for the same level of pleasure. And sometimes, the cost and lack of availability becomes a deterrent, so they turn to what other drug abusers are suggesting, heroin. It’s cheap, it’s a street drug, and it gives you a high. But they don’t understand what they are getting themselves into.
A recent conversation with the police chief of a small New Jersey town illuminated the problem of quality. “The closer you are to New York City, the better the quality of the heroin. It’s a cheap, quick high. The person who is accustomed to getting heroin in the middle of Pennsylvania has been using a product that has been cut several times. Now they find some high-quality heroin in New York or New Jersey and use the same amount. Unfortunately, it’s so much stronger, they can overdose and die. They also have no idea what their “everyday” heroin has been cut with. It’s Russian roulette.”
Many people are finding that because of the low cost of heroin and the presence of prescription pills in their world, some people often get these pills, sell them, and then use the money to buy heroin. Since money is a factor, it makes sense. Never forget that although substance abuse is about getting high, many use it to obtain money; and drugs are big money. Where else can you earn the kind of money in a traditional job that you can sell drugs? This makes dealing drugs to buy other stuff attractive to many kids.
While the message that marijuana was a gateway drug may have been lost in the credibility gap of our generation, the correlation between using prescription pills and heroin is much stronger. Whether the use of prescription pills is what motivates a person to use heroin (or not), is less critical than the question of how we stop heroin use? If stopping prescription pill production can stop heroin use, could/would we do it? This author feels the answer is that it wouldn’t change anything positively, but could have a very significant negative impact on the amount of heroin used in America. One thing is for sure, until we stop the flow of heroin into the U.S., or the mass production of it, nothing will change for the better.
You do not have to deal with heroin addiction alone. Recovery is possible. Others have done it. You or your loved one can do it too.
Family and Friends of Addicts—please remember—you can’t force an individual deal with an addiction problem. But you can offer support and arrange an intervention for addiction treatment. Reach out to us. Recovery from addiction is just a click or a phone call away. For more information on how to arrange and intervention for your loved one contact us at:
Florida Center for Recovery – Addiction Treatment Center: 1-800-960-5041
Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Recovery