50 years ago researchers avidly stood by the statistic that the average first-time heroin user was a 16-year-old male of color. However today the drug culture has changed a great deal, and that average first-time heroin user is actually much more likely to be a 23-year-old white woman.
This may seem strange to some, but for those familiar with the current climate as far as opiate abuse and drug treatment it makes perfect sense. Researchers concluded in a study published back in May of 2014 in JAMA Psychiatry that this statistic represents what was referred to as “a marked shift in the demographics of heroin users seeking treatment over the past several decades.”
How the Change Happened
This recent study examines the factors involved in this shift, and discovered that Caucasian women and men have gradually embraced prescription pills, especially painkillers, as their drug of choice. Subsequently heroin eventually becomes the more attractive alternative, being that it is much cheaper and very similar.
The lead study author and Washington University neuropharmacologist Theodore Cicero had a lot to say about these results.
“Most people tend to be prescription drug users first and then graduate to heroin. The additive properties of heroin are manifold greater than prescription drugs. It gets into the brain much more quickly than other opiates”
This means the drug once considered a “first opioid of abuse” is now more widely viewed as an increasingly popular last resort when an opiate habit has evolved long enough and far enough. The number of women among the current heroin using population has pretty much doubled:
- From about 20% back in the 1950s
- To about 52% of the current population
Through this survey researchers gathered data on over 9,000 opioid-dependent patients in 150 drug treatment centers across the US.
- About 2,800 reported heroin use
- The study also found that 90 percent of people who started using heroin in the past decade are white, and most of them are in their late 20s
- 75% of the survey’s respondents who had taken heroin did so while living in small cities or non-urban areas
Two things were credited as contributing factors to trying heroin according to the study done on these first time users- cost and convenience. The drug’s strength causes many to stick with it.
Cicero cautions that this doesn’t mean heroin has become less popular among young men of color in urban centers. Cicero estimates that the number of those users has probably increased as well. The difference is that heroin has moved out of the slums and into suburbia. Cicero said,
“We suddenly saw an explosion of heroin use in areas that were previously not interested in the drug. The biggest development being the migration of heroin from inner cities to the suburbs and rural areas.”
In the matter of heroin-related deaths the purity of the drug, or lack thereof, is an important factor. More often than not other ingredients are mixed in when the drug changes hands, and these ingredients often include things like talcum powder.
Because the drug isn’t sterile, people who use it can also frequently come into contact with a surplus of bacterial contaminations, which create more serious infections and illness. HIV and hepatitis C infection that accompanies sharing needles and coming into contact with compromised and contaminated blood continues to magnify those health risks.
Cicero believes that the United States government has a very incorrect and lopsided perception of how the illegal drug trade truly operates, and who is most at risk or involved. That alone might be one of the most imperative reasons that the illicit drug industry persists today.
“We are trying to cut down on the amount of heroin available, but we aren’t really addressing the problem. We need to focus a lot more on why people find these drugs so attractive [or] we aren’t going to be solving the abuse problem at all.”
Widespread geographic distribution of heroin use has become more and more relevant, and the issue of how prescription drugs play into that hand is more obvious these days. What should also be increasingly obvious is that more and more women, not at all excluding suburban white women, are falling victim to the terrible grips of addiction as a powerful and progressive disease.
Stigma truly does us no good. All it does is limit our perspective of what is really going on in our homes and in our neighborhoods. Understanding the threats that we all face is imperative to our survival through the plague of narcotics. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
Raeanna Johnson is the current reigning Miss Wisconsin as well as a recent college graduate, whose platform has been substance abuse and addiction awareness.
That’s because the beauty queen has been affected by the disorder in a very personal way: in 2005, when she was 15 years old, her brother, Tyler, committed suicide a mere 3 months after graduating high school. It was later found that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.
So, when she began entering local contests, Raeanna chose substance abuse and addiction as her platform so that she could promote awareness as well as opportunities to seek help for those struggling with drug addiction.
Addiction Awareness Finds an Unlikely Voice
Raeanna and Tyler’s mother started Tyler’s Legacy, Inc. – an organization supported by a website dedicated to promoting awareness about the impact of substance abuse and addiction on families. But it’s been Raeanna’s personal mission to bring national awareness to her campaign through her title as Miss Wisconsin and she hopes to continue advocating long after her beauty pageant days are over; Raeanna hopes that her work in preserving her brother’s legacy is what she will be most remembered for.
Raeanna Johnson spoke with The Fix about how she has been able to use the platform provided by being Miss Wisconsin to promote Tyler’s Legacy, her future campaign plans, and the importance of getting support in dealing with the death of a loved one.
The Fix: Even though he took his life, do you think his drug use contributed to his death in any way?
Raeanna: We have said before that we can blame his drug use for his decision to end his life. When he did that, he was no longer himself at that point. I don’t think he would have made that decision if he weren’t using, but we also don’t want to think he was that sad.
My mom had started Tyler’s Legacy Inc., and would hold a monthly support group where she would bring in a speaker, but my own activism didn’t take place until two years after Tyler’s death when I entered my first Miss America competition. My speech teacher told me that I was already speaking at a college level, so I realized that I could share my story and help create awareness. The Miss America Organization really just gave me the confidence to do that and provided a huge platform that helped me do things with Tyler’s Legacy that were beyond my wildest dreams.
This all started on such a small level. I just wanted to speak at DARE graduations and local schools, but the feedback was so positive from the very beginning. When I won Miss Holmen at age 17, I honestly had forgotten about the chance to compete for Miss Wisconsin or the scholarship money. I just wanted to share my story and help create awareness.
The Fix: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to get over losing a family member or loved one?
The biggest is to seek out people who are supportive. I felt shame at first because there were people who looked at me with judgmental eyes and also placed blame on him. They told me that Tyler was in hell for ending his life. It’s so important to remember who they were before the substance abuse because Tyler wasn’t himself when he ended his life. In these situations, seeking out people who will help enable that and be supportive is ultimately a survival technique.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, it’s time to get help – before it’s too late. It’s important to know that you are not alone in this and that there are people who care about and love you, even you don’t think so. Substance abuse and addiction is a very lonely place and is skews reality. Call toll-free 1-800-777-9588 day or night and you will speak directly with a compassionate, understanding, and knowledgeable Addiction Specialist who can answer your questions.
Despite what you may think because of what you hear, relapse is not a requirement for recovery. But relapse does happen, and it becomes part of some peoples stories. A lot of people with amazing sobriety have experienced a relapse, it is nothing to be ashamed of.
Those who survive a relapse are luckier than they could even imagine, and going back to rehab after a relapse can help them to get grounded in their recovery again, and give them an opportunity to learn as much as they can from that relapse.
Rehab after a Relapse: Understanding Relapse
A relapse for those in recovery from drugs or alcohol means that a person has been clean and sober, or has stopped using drugs and alcohol, for a period of time and then begins drinking or using again.
Relapses can be pretty scary, especially when someone feels confident in their sobriety and then ends up in a down-ward spiral. A relapse is one of the hardest things to deal with and face in recovery, because people tend to let a relapse cause them a lot of guilt and shame that can prohibit them from learning from the mistake and moving on.
Alot of the times the person who begins using drugs or alcohol after a time of sobriety doesn’t know why it has happened. Even someone who really wanted to stay sober can relapse and at the end up be kicking themselves all day, asking themselves “Why and how did this happen?” and “Should I go back to rehab after a relapse?”
Relapse can become a sad and troubling reality for anyone with the disease of alcoholism or addiction, and anyone in recovery is susceptible to a relapse back into active addiction. So when considering rehab after a relapse, it is important to not let shame hold you back. Relapse doesn’t have to be a part of anyone’s journey getting sober, but it can happen and rehab after a relapse can be one of the best ways to know what to do if it does.
Rehab after a Relapse: Support New Recovery
If you or your loved one starts drinking or using again, it is important to get them straight back into rehab after a relapse. Going back to rehab after a relapse may at first seem counter-productive, or even futile, in the light that they just went to treatment and now have started using or drinking again.
But the reason you or your loved one should go to rehab after a relapse is because when a relapse happens it is unknown when that person will stop, most do not stop immediately even if they want to.
Rehab after a relapses is even more important because the time directly after a relapse can be very dangerous and scary in the sense that it’s during this time overdoses are more likely to happen. With progression of the disease of addiction relapses always get worse, never better. Rehab after a relapse can help prevent the person struggling from going back out and using excessively.
Going back to rehab after a relapse is not only the safest option but it is also the smartest option. Recovery is a journey and just because a relapse happens doesn’t mean a person will never get the gift of a lifetime of sobriety, it only means that they should do everything they can to support their new sobriety.
You should not give up on the option of learning something you may have missed at treatment the first time. Going back to rehab after a relapse is something many addicts and alcoholics do, because they realize that they do not know everything, obviously, and could use that time to heal and start over.
Sometimes these addicts and alcoholics who go back to rehab after a relapse end up getting more out of it that they were missing before, and stay sober for the rest of their life. We never know what the journey of recovery may hold and for some people it holds one or more relapses. However, some more innovative programs offer relapse prevention courses and strategies, to try and help build the strongest foundation and protection from a relapse. IF you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
In life there are always choices, some simple and some so complex or confusing people will put them off for years at a time. Every choice is an opportunity that can change our circumstances, and ultimately our life’s journey, and sometimes we don’t know how things could have been because of the choices we chose not to make. Whatever the case may be, we should appreciate the gift of freedom to make these decisions, and not squander too many chances for change.
People often fall victim to the delusion that they have no choice, and this is especially true for people struggling with drugs or alcohol. Despite any expectation that there is no other way, whether in recovery or not, these are just 5 choices that can change your life.
- Allow yourself to love yourself
Love is by far one of the most powerful resources we can have, and it is ingrained in us. Whether we can acknowledge it or not, we have an endless supply of it, and we can use it to inspire others, heal the wounds the world can leave us with, and love can remind us of the limitless worth we have.
By allowing yourself to love yourself, you open up the flood gates of an immense supply of confidence and energy to fuel the things you are most passionate about. Loving yourself also allows you to forgive yourself for the past, for any shortcomings, and lets you believe in yourself and your capacity to change. Loving yourself can ultimately help you to truly be who you are, and who you are not.
- Show other people in your life how much you love them
Having just emphasized the importance and the power of love and what it can do for you, it should be pretty obvious why this is important. Of course it is the kind of gift that you can give yourself, but love is also an amazing feeling that you can share and express with those closest to you.
Showing the people in your life how much they mean to you can change your life, because it can alter the course of any relationship that has a real influence of who you are and how the quality of your life evolves. If someone close to you doubts their importance according to you, they may not allow themselves to truly be present in your life. Once someone knows how much you care, it can change everything.
- Don’t be afraid to pursue your passions
Who we are and the way we perceive the world is often inspired by the things that inspire us. Our passions are what give us the fire inside to strive on, to create and to explore, and to discover who we are and what we have to contribute to the beauty of the world. The things we love and the ambitions we have the potential to give our lives such fulfillment if we can take the risks to achieve those goals.
Too many people attest that they have lived to some degree of regret because out of all their years alive they chose the safer route. They chose social and financial security rather than the things that made them happy, and in the end it was not worth the sacrifice.
The choice to not let fear control the things you do and the dreams you chase will open you up to truly seek out the greatest extent of the person you can be. To let go of the idea that money should outweigh the things you love most can completely change your life.
- Commit to healthier habits
Sticking to a commitment is always important. Once we make a decision to do something for a better life, we should always be willing to see it through rather than give up on these goals or aspirations, especially when the choice we have initially made is for a healthier life.
No one lives forever, that much is true. But the quality of life that we have can be easily determined by how much we are willing to take care of ourselves. Things like hygiene, personal fitness, and taking care of ourselves mentally and emotionally will only magnify the quality of the results we get for the other choices that we make. So once we have decided to take action towards a healthier mind and body, we should commit to that choice.
- Don’t let others dictate who you are
Being trapped inside the expectations and opinions of others is nowhere to live your life. Holding yourself back because of what others might think of you, or because of what others might tell you is the person you should be is a life wasted trying to confine yourself to someone else’s perception of you.
Other people can only see us from a vantage point with limited perspective, they can only see maybe one or two of our dimensions that we let them see, without feeling the intricate emotional attachments, without understanding the layers of what makes us an individual. So they want to judge of from their point of view.
One of the worst things we can do is chose to try and compress all that we are into a fake presentation of what the world wants from us. Making the choice to be who you are, regardless of being misjudged or misunderstood, is real freedom. With that freedom all other choices become more powerful, because those choices are made genuinely, with love and faith.
It’s been said a thousand times a thousand different ways, that sometimes the best choices for us are the most difficult to make. We sometimes find ourselves caught in between trying to do what is right, and trying to do what is right for us. But in reality the two are more often than not the same, but the choice isn’t always easy. Sometimes the hardest choice we make is the choice that saves our lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588
As reported on earlier, both here and just about anywhere else, the Election Day wins for marijuana legalization claimed new territories with initiatives in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. that apparently are creating a spiked interest from potential financial investors who are wondering how much money to devote in the cannabis industry in order to capitalize on the growing change. But some wonder will the payout be worth the risk?
Stocks for Pot
Over an estimated 200 high net worth investors congregated on Tuesday, November 11th in Las Vegas in order to submit pitches to a forum by the ArcView Investor Network. The ArcView Investor Network brings a forum for legal cannabis-related businesses to meet with investors seeking to profit from this growing sector that many believe will be a huge piece of rejuvenating the economy. But despite all the excitement, is now truly the right time to put funds into marijuana businesses?
Some say yes, others say no, but according to a cross-section of media and investment observers, the answer is… well, a little bit of both. Forbes contributor Mark Fidelman recently helped conduct a survey of investors to BioTech to measure the average collective interest in pumping money into the cannabis industry to turn a profit, and found that nearly 75% of the respondents believe that it’s a financially sound idea.
Fidelman himself is quick to acknowledge what could be the single biggest obstacle facing potential investors, that so far marijuana is only legal for sale by in-state companies, and remains a Schedule I substance, making it a little bit more risky business. However, Fidelman and the investors he surveyed believe that it is only a matter of time before marijuana is made legal at the federal level, eliminating the potential to waste money on a company that will be put out of business before it can clear even.
Market Expert Opinions
Anyone who is willing to get involved at this stage of the game with the cannabis industry is probably trying to step into an older pair of shoes and follow in the footsteps of Joseph Kennedy of the old days when alcohol was the topic of economic speculation. CEO of Mentor Capital, Inc. Chet Billingsley explained,
“He amassed a stock position before the lifting of prohibition and made a fortune from the re-legalization of alcohol. Many public companies are copying this model. They are positioning to have market share and established market presences when marijuana prohibition lifts.”
Matt Egan at CNN’s Money desk takes a little bit of a different perspective on the pot market and how he believes investments may be jumping the gun. Publicly-traded marijuana companies are fueled by penny stocks, which are less regulated and more speculative than large cap stocks maintained by major companies. Egan referred to the example of Medbox, which makes automated dispensing systems for both medication and marijuana. That innovation has seen its share of dramatic changes in market worth.
Quite a few over-zealous investors interested in Medbox sent stocks up from $8 in December 2013 to $93.50 less than a month later. Then before you knew it, within two days to be exact, the stock plunged back to $33, and currently remains around $11, not much further from where it began a year ago. Medbox is still one of the biggest marijuana stocks to look at, with a market value of around $350 million, but still it remains a serious risk because the industry itself is still so limited.
Egan quotes Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at ConvergeEx in an attempt to inspire all the potential investors who are putting all their money on the legalization of marijuana to bring them great riches:
“If you begin to get a feeling that marijuana will become legal in our lives at a federal level, you should probably look at tobacco companies, because they already have the manufacturing and distribution facilities.”
In reality this is probably one of the smartest move that can be made, especially for bigger investors. With the tobacco industry having all the resources to really start making some changes in the way marijuana is grown, harvested, packaged and distributed there is a serious likelihood that if legalized on a national level, they will be creating more jobs for a whole new take on their own industry. Either way planning to put your money where the marijuana is might need a little more strategy than previously expected, but with this kind of change in pot politics, there is sure to be a profit to be made.
Marijuana continues to become more of a topic of discussion as legislation and regulations shift toward legalization. Some are concerned with what impact this will have on those already struggling with drugs or alcohol. How it will effect those who have yet to use drugs or alcohol, and will it create more addicts? Time will tell, but for those already struggling there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135