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Friday, April 7, 2017

Heroin: Educating Young People

heroin
The most recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey had promising results regarding young people using drugs and alcohol. When it comes to opioid narcotics, such as prescription painkillers and heroin, teenagers are using them at fairly low rates. In fact, heroin use (intravenous) rates among high school seniors was remarkably low at 0.3 percent in 2016, even though we are in the midst of an epidemic. Teenage use of prescription opioids seemed to be declining as well. All good news!

Considering the MTF findings, it is vital that young people continue to be given the message about the dangers of opioid narcotics; because the trends seen among high school age students are not mirrored in young adults. New research from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that Americans using heroin has jumped by an exponential of five over the last ten years, according to a press release from the university. What’s more, the most drastic increases in heroin use and abuse was among:
  • Young Adults
  • Males
  • Whites
"In 2001 to 2002, whites and non-whites reported similar prevalence of heroin use. However, in 2012-2013, increases in heroin and related disorders were particularly prominent among whites, leading to a significant race gap in lifetime heroin use by 2013," said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.

The findings, published in JAMA Psychiatry indicated that people with low incomes and no more than a high school education were at a heightened risk. So, it is vital that young people are educated in high school about the insidious nature of opioid addiction. Across the country, many public high schools have begun to place a greater focus on opioids.

"Our results underscore the need to expand educational programs on the harms related to heroin use and access to treatment in populations at increased risk," said Dr. Martins. "Promising examples of prevention and intervention efforts include expansion of access to medication-assisted treatment -- methadone, buprenorphine or injectable naltrexone -- as well as educational campaigns in schools and community settings, and consistent use of prescription drug monitoring programs." 

In the states hardest hit by the opioid addiction epidemic, lawmakers are thinking about mandatory opioid abuse education in public schools, The Washington Post reports. Michigan, ­Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Carolina are all considering legislation that would include some form of opioid education in public schools throughout their states. Such programs could deter use both in high school, and later into young adulthood.

If you are one of the many young adults in this country struggling with opioid use disorder, then you are likely aware of the deadly nature of such drugs. Overdose is rarely a question of “if,” but rather a question of “when.” Please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Side Note: Today is World Health Day. We would like to encourage all of our readers to take a part in ending the stigma of mental illness, in order to help people seek help and recover. Stigma hurts us all, putting an end to it could help countless individuals around the world. You can find more information here.

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