Heroin in the Suburbs

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 12.04.02 PMYou may have seen the flyers around school for the “Heroin in the Suburbs” presentation in the past few weeks. The event, which took place on the 30th of September, was designed to inform the community of the negative (and sometimes fatal) effects of heroin and prescription drugs, and of their increasing prevalence in our area.

The event was planned by the Franklin Area Parents and Students United (FAPSU) organization, and was supported by members of the Franklin Teens Fighting Tobacco club, who handed out the schedule for the event.

Opening speakers included Superintendent Dr. Patz, Mayor Steve Olson, and Police Chief Rick Oliva, who asserted the importance of the topic at hand.  In Milwaukee County alone, there were 243 overdose deaths in 2013.  Compared to the number of murders in Milwaukee in the same year (100), there were nearly 2.5 times as many overdoses in Milwaukee County.  While murders generally occur in the same general areas, drug overdoses are occurring all around the county.  If the same number of overdoses in Milwaukee County recently is compared to the number of fatal overdoses in the county 10 years prior (106), it is clear there has been a significant increase in overdoses in Milwaukee by around 130%.

“It’s Cheap and It’s Everywhere”

  • A net surplus of Heroin is created every year, meaning that even in the case of major police stings, the price will stay low.
  • Heroin is cheaper to get for those who lack a supply of prescription drugs.
  • In some areas, Heroin is easier for kids to get than wine, and cheaper than beer.
  • “Dealers love Suburban kids, they have money and don’t carry guns.”
  • This high availability, combined with the inconsistencies in dosage (a Heroin user has the chance of getting the drug with 7-80% purity) with each dose users get is why the drug is so deadly.

Heroin: Addiction or Disease?

  • Heroin is an Opiate Drug, meaning it creates a high by interfering with Endorphin production for other parts of the body, producing a euphoria and suppressing pain.  The human body already produces this chemical, but in smaller amounts as part of the pleasure center, so the overwhelming flood of the chemical caused by the use of Heroin leads to decreased natural Endorphin production.  Due to the fact that Opiates produced by the human brain are designed to create pleasurable feeling, the decrease of production leaves the user depressed, unhappy, and unable to break their mental dependency on the drug. The brains of users become wired to the drug, needing it to experience the joys and pleasures of everyday life.  This is why, even in a group of people sober of the drug for 15 years, there is a high relapse rate (25%). It also gives support to the claim by addicts that addiction is “like a disease”.

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“One Wrong Decision Can Cost You it All”

  • At the presentation, mother Darlene Collins told the story of her son Brian James Davis, a graduate of Franklin High School, who had started experimenting with drugs in middle school, and who had committed suicide to escape his Heroin addiction. He had started out experimenting with Marijuana in middle school, but that led to him to experimenting with many other drugs, eventually leading to Heroin addiction – which he ended his own life to escape. In his suicide note he said that he had “Messed up [his] life, bad, with drugs”. Collins’ portrayed her son as what he was – a human being who left behind a family that loved him.  Brian, like many other heroin addicts, started out with the gateway drug Marijuana, and progressed through drugs of various intensity until reaching Heroin.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Many prescription drug abusers get their drugs from friends or family members.  It is very easy to overdose on prescription medication (even half a pill of Oxycodone can kill), especially when taken along with alcohol.  Unfortunately, prescription drug abuse is also becoming prevalent, with 15% of teenagers admitting to abusing the drugs within the last year.  Prescription drug abuse often leads to Heroin use, as Heroin produces a similar high and is much cheaper.

Any type of drug use should be avoided, as it can all lead to addiction.  From Marijuana, to prescription drugs, to Heroin; all of these drugs pose a danger to anyone who abuses them.  A drug addiction won’t just take your money or your time, it may take your very life.

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