3) We are currently in a prescription pill epidemic. The numbers are higher than ever. Recently, according to Monitoring the Future and National Household Survey, 12th graders are popping prescription pills recreationally more than they are smoking marijuana. Thus, abusing pills has now passed up marijuana as our biggest problem in this demographic. And if people can't get ahold of narcotic pills like OxyContin and Vicodin, they may reach out for heroin if they are trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
4) Heroin is an incredibly dangerous drug because it gets past the blood brain barrier so quickly and it has such a short half-life (two to three hours). So it works very quickly, but then you start withdrawals soon. Thus, using heroin is a full-time job. You spend all your time getting the drug, using the drug and then withdrawing…and then trying to get more drugs to avoid the withdrawals. It's a constant cycle, and you don't have time for anything else…like a job or raising kids or doing anything productive.
5) Treatment for opiate dependence. We have all heard of Methadone and in the movies, we've seen the traditional opiate detox portrayals (in a hospital bed shaking and in pain), but many people aren't aware of the medication Suboxone, which was FDA approved in 2002 to 2003 and can be used in an outpatient setting for opiate detoxification or short-term maintenance or long-term maintenance treatment.
As the person addicted to opiates doesn't have to go every morning to a methadone clinic and doesn't have to check into a hospital (unless the detoxification or diagnosis is complicated), this medication has helped to treat many more people and helped to reduce some of the stigma. As such, many opiate-dependent people have kicked the drugs and become functional members of society.