In Adaptive Center we treat a lot of opiate addiction. Painkillers and heroin belong to a family of drugs called opiates. Many of the painkillers that are prescribed for back pain, post-surgery pain, and dental procedures are opiates and close relatives of heroin.
In the last few years two factors have contributed to an epidemic of heroin addiction:
- The cracking down of “Pill Mills” or “Pain Clinics”
- The low price of heroin
Here’s what happened.
Opiates are very addictive. Many people that were prescribed opiates for chronic pain became addicted to them, and when doctors refused to continue to prescribe them, they found “Pain Clinics” in which by simply reporting symptoms of pain, and paying a fee, they could get prescriptions for any amount of opiate pills they wanted. These “Pain Clinics” became known as “Pill Mills”.
These Pill Mills spread like fire. In Florida, for example, they were so available, that drug dealers from other states would bring busloads of people, line them up in front of these “Clinics,” and have each individual person get prescriptions that amounted to thousands of pills that the drug dealers would sell—illegally—back home.
As a result, many young people—and people medicating chronic pain—began buying these pills from the same drug dealers that had previously sold them marijuana and other “party drugs.” They became addicted to opiates very quickly.
The Cracking Down of Pill Mills
The existence of Pill Mills became so scandalous that law enforcement cracked down on their operators very hard. The majority of the Pill Mills were closed, and many of their operators faced legal consequences. However, these effective law enforcement measures cut the supply of pills to the drug dealers and following the laws of supply and demand, as the supply of pills ran out, their price of went up.
So, people addicted to opiates in pill form experienced the pain of withdrawing from them, and the pills harder to find. The drug dealers, however, had plenty of heroin.
The Low Price of Heroin
As the availability of opiate pills was going down, and their price kept going up, heroin was becoming cheaper. More and more heroin began to be manufactured in Mexico, instead of the old—and more distant—sources in the East and Europe. Mexican heroin was cheaper to make and easier to smuggle into the U.S. As a result, the supply of heroin sky-rocketed, and—again—according to the laws of supply and demand, the increasing amount of heroin made it cheaper.
The low price of heroin made it possible for people who were addicted to opiate pills to escape the pain of withdrawal by medicating them with heroin: it was cheap, and the drug dealers had a lot of it. Unfortunately, by reaching out to heroin as medication for opiate withdrawals, opiate addicts discovered what one of my clients described as “the King of the Opiates.” And the story that followed is tragic.
Here is the tragic story of the descent into Heroin addiction, as told to me by the majority of heroin addicts that I have known: First they began using heroin as a substitute for opiate pills that had become too expensive and too hard to find. Usually, they started by snorting it, in the same way that cocaine is used. However, soon they found that they needed to constantly buy more in order to escape “getting sick”: the withdrawal symptoms that follow the drug use. During their use, they met a more experienced user who taught them that if they injected the heroin it would be more potent and the effect would last longer—and eventually—even those that had been “horrified,” “disgusted,” and had looked down on people that injected heroin as “junkies,” tried it. And when they did, they report, that life as they had known it ended.
They report that life became an endless seeking of heroin—using—and seeking again. They became unstoppable and ruthless in their seeking—and they were stopped only by profound despair, death, or treatment.
Today this story is being lived by millions of people of all races, ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic status. While you were reading this article, many died, and many want to stop because they can’t stand the despair of living for the sake of a drug, and many of those are looking for treatment to be able to stop and stay stopped. And it all began with Pills. They are not Heroin, but they led to it.
It’s our hope that this information may be of help to you and your loved ones, and that it may empower you and those you care about to avoid the trap of Opiate/Heroin addiction. If you think that we may be of even further help, contact us.