Heroin Has Changed

Heroin use has changed. Consumers of the drug are no longer stereo-typical and we now find addicts in every strata of society. The term “junkies” was for many years common slang for persons addicted to heroin, and it calls up images of seedy hotel rooms, stained mattresses on grimy floors or people standing around a burning barrel on cold nights. Now the drug is more mainstream, and a heroin user can be a professor or a principal, a contractor or a CEO.

Heroin and paraphernalia

Examples of this change are all too common in the news. In February 2014 Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an actor at the top of his game with a bright future, died of an overdose of heroin. Cory Monteith, a successful, 31 year old actor from the Glee series died July 13, 2013, another heroin overdose.

Stephen Tyler from Aerosmith is quoted, "I blew 20 million. I snorted my Porsche, I snorted my plane, I snorted my house in that din of drugs and booze and being lost," he wrote. Others on this list include, River Phoenix and Jimi Hendrix. Actor Samuel Jackson overdosed 3 times on heroin before entering rehab.

With an average of 129 daily overdose deaths in the United States, there is no longer a typical heroin user, addict or victim.

A surprising number of these people began their drug addiction careers with legal prescriptions for pain or sleep and eventually began taking them for other reasons. Prescription drugs such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and other opioids drugs have similar effects to heroin when taken in doses other than intended. This has led to a surge in their use and also in emergency room reports for overdose.

Once it becomes clear to a prescribing physician that an addiction problem exists with a patient, they tend to “cut them off,” meaning they will refuse to refill their prescriptions. Now we have a person who is very dependent on a drug he or she is unable to get legally. The next step is to hit the streets, getting the pills illegally from others, sometimes friends, sometimes dealers. This is known as drug diversion and is a huge problem.

This is where an increasing number of these addicts, out of desperation, turn to heroin when they find that it is more easily available and quite often less expensive. And there it is: we have a respectable, formerly law-abiding citizen entering into a world they could never have predicted. Before their drug dependence started, using heroin seemed inconceivable. If they were thinking clearly, they still would seek treatment rather than turn to heroin. But thinking clearly isn’t an option for an addict. The addiction is in charge now and former decisions and standards fall away.

The Narconon program has been helping people overcome heroin addiction for fifty years. From humble beginnings, there are now Narconon rehabilitation centers on every continent but Antarctica.

The experienced staff at Narconon Nevada help recovering users around the clock through every step of their programs. From withdrawal through body detoxification and life-skills training, every aspect of recovery is addressed. Graduates finish the program armed with everything they need to live life with confidence, knowing their addiction is behind them and a clean, better future is ahead.


Tony Bylsma

Tony Bylsma has been working for Narconon as a counselor, administrator and educator in various areas of the US for many years. In addition to helping people overcome their addictions and live drug-free lives, Tony has spoken to over six hundred thousand students, parents and professionals regarding drug abuse and effective abuse prevention. This year Tony is celebrating his 40th year of sobriety!