Heroin, along with other opioids, have contributed to nearly half of the drug overdose deaths that have nearly tripled since 1999 in the United States. Whites and middle-aged Americans are the highest in number among those who have overdosed. More than 16 Americans out of every 100,000 have died of an overdose in 2015.


Dr. Edwin Salsitz is an addiction medicine specialist.

“[The] life expectancy for white Americans is going down whereas it’s not going down for other racial or ethnic groups.”


(Axis Residential Treatment)

Heroin is among the most harmful and the most highly addictive opioids to use. When injected, the person exposes themselves to risk of HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and other bacterial infections that can lead to skin disease and even damage to the heart.


Among the most deadly is the mix of substances such as heroin and fentanyl, which causes an intensified high in the user, and increased profit for the drug dealer. These street drugs are one of the reasons drug use has reached epidemic levels in the United States; this is also one of the reasons death by overdose has become so common.


Prescription drug use has reached major epidemic levels as well and is gaining the attention of the medical community. The epidemic has caused the pharmaceutical community to take action by becoming more creative in how they make prescription drugs. Not only is the bottle tamper resistant, but the pills themselves are resistant to altering so that they are difficult to crush.


People are doing the unthinkable to get their hands on more drugs, including harming their pets. Veterinarians are reporting cases of clients claiming pet injury to try to get Tramadol, an inexpensive drug typically prescribed for pain that has an opiate effect. Dr. Duffy Jones advised Tramadol is fairly safe and is widely used by vets nationwide. Pet doctors would never have thought it would be a drug abuser’s choice. Yet, it has become just that.


In Elizabethtown, Ky, police say 23-year-old Heather Pereira cut her dog with razor blades in order to score prescription medicine to use. She had brought her dog in three separate times with cuts. Each time, she specifically requested Tramadol, which is meant for dogs. She was charged with three counts of animal torture and fraud to gain a controlled substance.


When people will stoop to this level to support their drug habits, we have a new level of epidemic on our hands.


What can be done about the epidemic of drug use and abuse in our country? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.