Two different studies in the Chicago, Illinois area and the state of Massachusetts have shown a link between prescription drug abuse and a rise in crime and an eventual switch from pills to illicit drugs, such as heroin.
In the Chicago area study, the users of heroin started early, usually with either prescription pills such as OxyContin or Vicodin, or after experimenting with other types of drugs. Often these users are ignorant to important information concerning heroin, such as its high potential of addiction and the withdrawal symptoms that accompany its use. Also, two-thirds of those interviewed replied that they believed snorting heroin rather than smoking or intravenous use was less addictive, and ‘safer’. Of the parents who were interviewed, nearly half said they did not know where to find factual information about drugs.
Prescription drug abuse in Massachusetts has reached the level of epidemic. Statistics show that opioid related deaths have increased by 600% over the last 20 years, non-heroin related opioid emergency room visits increased by 134%, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported an increase of 950% in admission for ‘other opioid’ (including OxyContin and other prescription drugs) in treatment facilities, and the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) show data that in the metro Boston area, 66% of opioid related deaths are from abuse and misuse of non-heroin opioids.
The rise in the prevalence of OxyContin in Massachusetts and across New England and the whole Northeast has led to an increase in crime, particularly in pharmacy robberies. In 2002, 89% of all pharmacy robberies in New England occurred in Massachusetts. The high cost of OxyContin (typically $1 per milligram) on the street contributes to these occurrences, and also leads many abusers to cheaper opiates, such as heroin.
OxyContin is now second only to heroin as the primary drug of choice in Massachusetts. Heroin and cocaine remain the most widely distributed drugs in the state; however, with the rise of OxyContin and other prescription drug abuse, the number of cocaine addicts has seen a steady decline, while heroin addiction has steadily risen. Non-methadone treatment centers in Massachusetts have seen an increase from 15% to over 40% of persons admitted listing heroin as their drug of choice, while the percentage of those admitted for cocaine has dropped 72%.
Proper drug education and treatment is the only way to stem these increasing numbers in addiction and crime related to addiction, and it is not only limited to these studies of Chicago and Massachusetts. The Freedom Center offers both of these. Drug education is showing itself to be increasingly important, as the study in Chicago shows many kids, young adults and parents are uninformed about the real effects and problems associated with drugs. For the person struggling with prescription drug or heroin addiction, the Freedom Center offers an unparalleled program with a success rate of over 70%. If a friend or a family member is in need of help and treatment, the Freedom Center can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-877-394-1828.