The Heroin Epidemic on Long Island

By James Heinlein

Preventing the Preventable: Overdose Reversal Kits, which utilize the drug naloxone, are being made available at crisis and health centers.  Communities are also proposing that  local Police Departments carry these kits while on duty.

Preventing the Preventable: Overdose Reversal Kits, which utilize the drug naloxone, are being made available at crisis and health centers. Communities are also proposing that local Police Departments carry these kits while on duty.

Heroin use by teens on Long Island has been growing at an alarming rate in the past few years. The LIE has even been nicknamed “Heroin Highway” because of its how commonly it is used by addicts to drive into Queens to buy the drug on the cheap. The users seem to keep getting younger and younger, too. It has been reported that adolescents as young as 12 are  becoming addicted to the drug.  In addition to ruining lives, this drug has also been taking them.  Heroin overdoses have quintupled since 1990.

The most probable reason for this increase in use is the crackdown on opioid painkillers. The recent arrests of doctors who over-prescribed medications as well as the creation of new laws have contributed to the reduction of the supply of painkillers, particularly oxycodone. This supply reduction caused a price increase and made it difficult to find the pills on the street. Heroin, a very similar drug, has taken its place– the drug costs about a third of the price and is twice as strong. Due to lack of regulation for illegal drugs, this heroin is cut with other substances that are contributing to the overdose issue. Recently, Fentanyl has been used to boost the intensity of the high. Another synthetic opioid, Fentanyl is cheaper than heroin but is much more potent and has played a part in many fatal overdoses. The two drugs have a synergistic effect and work together to slow down body functions, and often this is too much for a human heart to handle; many deaths occur when users fall asleep and slowly stop breathing.

The extremely addictive nature of Heroin causes crime to increase. It is typical for addicts to spend around $100-300 a day. Many of them turn to selling the drug themselves to make this money. Unfortunately, many addicts don’t have the self control to do this, so they rob and burglarize instead. This means that a few teenagers getting high can cause a previously safe neighborhood to be plagued with crime.

**If you or anyone you know is struggling with a prescription or illegal drug addition, there are many places to receive help here on Long Island**

http://www.longislandcrisiscenter.org/counseling.html

http://www.phoenixhouse.org/

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