The shift from OxyContin to heroin and people trying to get high after getting clean are some of the reasons for the upsurge in deaths in Alabama.
In May 2012, the Birmingham News provided some grim insight into the fatal results of addiction. In just the month of April, Jefferson County had thirteen deaths from heroin. In all of 2010, there were only 12 deaths from the drug and in 2011, a total of 30 people died.
What makes the situation worse is that many of those who died were so very young: a 28-year old man, 38-year old man, one who was 18, another who was 24, a nineteen-year-old, a 21-year old woman, and a 32-year old woman. All dead of heroin, often with syringes next to the bodies.
Across the country, many people are seeking heroin supplies after the reformulation of Oxycontin, their prior preferred drug of choice. Once OxyContin pills were made hard to abuse by making them gummy, heroin deaths began to creep up. The effects of OxyContin and heroin abuse are said to be very much the same. So individuals who previously used prescription fraud to obtain drugs now had to find a street drug dealer to score heroin which was sometimes sold at half the price.
Inexperience Using Heroin Contributes to Deaths
But a number of factors now conspire to cause to these deaths:
- OxyContin users were accustomed to a consistent potency so knew how to dose themselves with that drug
- Heroin’s potency varies greatly
- OxyContin users are not used to dosing themselves with the variable heroin potency
- To make things worse, Mexican drug cartels began smuggling in a high potency heroin in 2011
Heroin dealers have plenty of customers and potential customers – so customer service and concern is not part of the job.
Another factor in some of these deaths is that some people may have wanted to get high again after being clean for awhile. When they gave themselves a “usual” dosage, they couldn’t tolerate it and overdosed. Some of the people who died had recently graduated from drug court or been to rehab.
In St. Louis, the story was much the same. According to the news site BND.com, heroin deaths in the area almost doubled in 2009 and then maintained that peak in 2010. Over a five-year period, 357 residents of the area died due to heroin overdoses. Here too, many of those who died were young.
Not Isolated Incidents
“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents,” stated Bobby Wiggins, longtime drug educator and spokesperson for Narconon International. Narconon is a non-profit organization dedicated to the elimination of substance abuse and addiction. “The same scenario is playing out from Minneapolis to San Diego. These people are trying to stave off the sickness of opiate withdrawal with whatever drug they can find. Fortunately, at Narconon we have developed a tolerable method of withdrawal followed by an effective method of rehabilitation that can save some of these people who feel trapped in their addictions.”
At any of the fifty Narconon rehab centers around the world, addicts are supported through withdrawal by giving them generous dosages of nutritional supplements that help the body through the withdrawal period and calm many of the symptoms. Relaxing physical assists help the person relax and stop being anxious about recovery. The rehab program that follows is so effective that seven out of ten graduates stay sober after they go home.
“There are only three outcomes to addiction: prison, death or sobriety,” Mr. Wiggins said. “We help people choose lasting sobriety.”