Psychologically Transmitted Disease: Heroin Addiction

Heroin has regained the attention of the media, as its use is now reported to be of epidemic proportions. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the amount of deaths related to opioids including heroin has quadrupled since 1999 to 2014. Today the incidence of heroin abuse is seen primarily in White males, in young people —both male and female, ages 18-25, and in states occupying the Midwest region of the  United States. The reason for this recent epidemic has been associated with the use of prescription opioid painkillers. In fact, non-medical use of prescription opioids is a major risk factor for heroin use.  In addition, the cost of heroin has decreased,  its purity increased, and its availability is still readily attainable.

With so many people currently dying from heroin, government officials and policy makers are struggling with how to cope with an epidemic that is neither air-borne, vector-borne, or food-borne, but born out of the psychology of pain. Recently, media attention and public debate has surrounded the establishment of heroin clinics as a solution to the death crisis. Addicts may go to heroin clinics to receive injections of heroin, and in case of overdose, the antidote Naloxone (Narcan). Astonishing as it may seem, this is not the first time there has been a heroin epidemic, and neither is the idea of giving heroin to addicts at heroin clinics novel. Continue reading