Whether you realize it or not, Maryland is in the midst of an epidemic. The death toll is rising; the number of people hospitalized is staggering; and the culprit is a reemerging plague once thought to be on the decline. The problem affecting more and more Marylanders than ever is the street drug heroin.
The statistics are frightening. Overdose deaths from heroin alone have been on a growing trend for several years now. Accounting for:
- 247 deaths in 2011
- 392 deaths in 2012 – a nearly 60 percent increase from 2011
- 464 deaths in 2013
- 578 deaths in 2014
- Heroin was responsible for over 1,200 emergency room visits in 2013, a 150 percent increase from the year before
The problem has hit Baltimore and the surrounding counties especially hard. Baltimore County and the city of Baltimore totaled 226 of the heroin-related deaths in the state in 2013. But while the largest numbers of deaths have consistently been in Baltimore, some of the highest per-capita rates have been in rural counties, such as Cecil and Wicomico.
Why The Resurgence in Heroin Addiction?
Opioid abuse often begins with an addiction to prescription pills such as Oxycodone and Percocet. Federal officials have cracked down on the illicit use of prescription drugs in recent years, thus driving up their price on the black market. This has made heroin a cheaper alternative in hardscrabble communities and also in higher-income areas where heroin addiction used to be rare. Heroin often sells for less than $5 for a bag containing enough for one dose, making it cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.
In an interview published in the Baltimore Business Journal, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said that, “Out of state traffickers see the growing demand for heroin in Baltimore, and are increasingly flocking to the city,” adding that this has increased the amount of heroin-related crime. Crimes committed in relation to heroin can range from theft – when users need quick money for a fix – to violent crimes like gang or dealer disputes.
Why Should I Worry About Heroin Addiction?
Aside from the obvious moral negatives associated with heroin, this problem should concern all Maryland residents regardless of their personal connection to the drug. Increase in drug use within any community invariably comes with an increase in crime. Theft, burglary, assault, prostitution, homicide – all of these activities are symptomatic of growing drug trades. Property values decrease, households become less stable, students perform less favorably in school, unemployment rises, and communities disintegrate from within – all because of the parasitic nature that is heroin.
And god-forbid you or someone you love falls into the trap. It’s not as difficult for someone to become addicted to drugs, despite some beliefs. Many studies show heroin to be effective at causing addiction in just one use. In addition, with the over-saturation of prescription opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, etc.) in recent decades, many people from more affluent areas in the state have already developed opioid addictions without realizing its relation to heroin addiction.
This isn’t an isolated problem. People are dying by greater numbers every year.
What Can I Do if I Suspect Someone I Know Has a Heroin Addiction?
The recreational use of prescription drugs, opiates such as heroin, ecstasy, MDMA, marijuana, and even alcohol can lead to poor decision making, addiction, and death. It’s important to know and understand the signs and symptoms of addiction, and to seek treatment as soon as possible. Seeking treatment is the only effective way towards a successful recovery. It’s never too early to ask for help, but it can always become too late. Gambling with your health is always a losing bet.
If you have any questions or concerns about yourself or a loved one, contact Serenity Acres today for immediate help at 1-800-203-2024. Don’t let yourself or the people you care about become another statistic.