Editorial: U.S. heroin problem is growing

Heroin usage among the 18-25-year-old population has more than doubled over the past decade and a big reason is abuse of prescribed opioid painkillers.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that heroin usage and heroin overdose deaths are on the rise. The CDC says 45 percent of people who use heroin are also addicted to prescription painkillers – more than 9 of 10 heroin users also use at least one other drug.

Heroin is highly addictive and an overdose can cause slow and shallow breathing, coma and then death.  People use heroin with alcohol and other drugs, thereby increasing the danger to health.

Heroin is injected, snorted or smoked. Injecting heroin leads to HIV, Hepatitis C and B plus bacterial infections. The CDC states people addicted to marijuana and alcohol have the biggest risk for heroin addiction. Heroin addiction crosses all demographic categories. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013.

One solution might be to make it tougher for doctors to over-prescribe narcotics. But the core problem is hedonism, an “if it feels good, do it” mentality.

And here’s the dirty little secret – one of the reasons health care premiums are going up so high is because of drug abuse – both heroin and prescribed narcotics.