Increased Need for Drug Detox as More People Die from Heroin Overdose
The last time the U.S. faced a heroin epidemic was the 1970s when the drug quickly spread through inner city areas and communities. Today’s heroin epidemic has taken a new, more inclusive paths made up of people from all walks of life, according to the U. S. News & World Report online site. Of particular concern are the large numbers of heroin overdose deaths, and heroin-related arrests within the country’s rural and suburban areas.
The surge in heroin abuse no doubt stems from stricter regulations surrounding prescription drug dispensing practices. These changes leave prescription drug users little choice but to seek out alternate drug sources.
Not surprisingly, these developments have created a dire need for effective drug detox treatment services as evidenced by the increasing number of heroin-related emergency-room admissions. To date, the availability of drug treatment services falls short of the growing need for heroin detox treatment, which will only get worse in the coming years.
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From Pain Pills to Heroin
Many people may be surprised to hear about the similarities that exist between prescription pain relief medications and heroin. Both types of drugs belong to the opiate narcotic class of drugs. Opiate drugs in general are well known for their ability to produce feelings of calm, euphoria and well-being.
In an effort to curb prescription pain pill abuse, federal and state drug regulators have made it more difficult for users to access these drugs. Prescription drug prices have also become more expensive in the process.
At the same time, heroin distribution methods have become more efficient and widespread throughout the United States. These improvements have greatly lowered the price of heroin on the streets. Seemingly, a perfect storm, prescription pain pill users have taken advantage of the heroin market and, as a result, are paying a higher price than ever before.
Heroin Overdose Deaths
The relationship between prescription drug overdose deaths and heroin overdose deaths across the past two decades is starting to show patterns of cause and effect at work. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, prescription drug overdose rates exceeded the combined number of overdoses resulting from heroin and cocaine abuse in 2008.
As of 2012, heroin overdose deaths have increased by 45 percent between the years 2006 and 2010, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. As the statistics unfold, it’s becoming painfully apparent how heroin addictions have picked up where prescription medication addictions left off.
Access to Treatment
According to USA Today online, the limited access to drug treatment services will place a considerable strain on the growing number of addicts seeking help for heroin addiction. The existing shortage in available drug treatment services also adds to the unavoidable problems a growing heroin epidemic brings.
Insurance companies often have certain requirement in place, which prevent addicts from receiving needed levels of treatment. For instance, some insurers require addicts to have attempted treatment through outpatient programs before authorizing coverage for detox/inpatient care. These types of requirements don’t usually apply for low-income addicts or those with little to no means. In effect, the areas experiencing the greatest increase in heroin use are encountering the most stringent of insurance requirements.
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