Why is heroin use such an epidemic?

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs available today and more than 27,000 people die from it every year.  The reason that heroin is so popular is because it is an opiate, like painkillers, but it is much cheaper and stronger.  Because of this, many painkiller addicts move from painkillers to heroin.

heroin needle

A big drug that started the painkiller problem was Oxycontin. According to advertisements when the drug came out, “Oxycontin is one of America’s new prescription wonder drugs” (Cohen & Gaviria, 2016).  The advertisements strategically pushed the drug which would make people want the drug for their pain and for doctors to prescribe it.  “We went from a country who used almost no opiate painkillers (like in the 50s and 60s) to being a country where we used 83% of the world’s Oxycodone and almost 98% of the world’s Hydrocodone” said Sam Quinones (Cohen & Gaviria, 2016).


Doctor Nora Volkow used a metaphor of drug abuse as “Driving a car without brakes.  You may very well want to stop.  If you do not have brakes, you will not be able to do it” (Cohen & Gaviria, 2016).  It also damages the frontal cortex of the brain the more a person abuses drugs.

car without brakes

I agree with what Mikel Kowalcyk said on the video about drug use.  She said “People are going to use drugs.  Let’s make it safe for them to use drugs until they’re ready to do something different”  (Cohen & Gaviria, 2016).  I believe that reverse psychology has a big effect on people doing drugs.  The more you tell someone “No”, the more they have an inner inclination to want to do things.  If there are treatments to avoid drug withdrawals, such as Methadone clinics, it is easier for drug users to get off their drug of choice.

Methadone clinic

In my opinion, people probably use drugs to have an escape from reality since living in the world today is very rough.  The people with rough family lives seem to be more prone to drug addiction.  Even so, there are also people who had wonderful childhoods and high potential that get addicted to drugs.  This is such a pity.  Drug addiction is an epidemic in the United States and I think the best way to treat it is with kindness and understanding.  The more a person is punished, the harder it will be for them to stop abusing drugs.

escape from reality



Cohen, W. (Producer), & Gaviria, M. (Director). (2016, February 23).  Frontline “Chasing Heroin” [Video file].  United States: Public Broadcasting Service.  Retrieved March 19, 2018, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/chasing-heroin/

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