Was it the mother’s fate — or misfortune — she left her cellphone in reach of her toddler? Was it happenstance — or a miracle — the toddler dialed 911? Officers observed the 31-year-old woman exiting a house with a history of illegal drug activity. Suspicious of the mother’s motive for being there, officers asked if they could search her purse. They subsequently found a large amount of cash and several prescription pills, for which the mother did not have a prescription.
On the way to jail, she told her arresting officer a car wreck left her in severe pain and before she knew it, she was addicted to the pain medication legally prescribed by her doctor. When her prescription ran out, she sought illegal ways to satisfy her growing addiction.
Not all addictions are accidental; some are prompted by conscious decisions to use medication that can cause addiction.
According to government statistics, prescription opiate abuse has progressively increased in the last ten years and the number of people who use heroin has doubled since 2007. Smack is back!
Heroin, commonly called smack, was first used in 1898 to treat morphine addiction. However, it turned out to be extremely addictive and was ultimately made illegal. Once primarily a problem in the back alleys of urban squalor, today, it is right next door in many metropolitan Atlanta upper class suburban homes, even Cobb County.
Widespread use of heroin surfaced right after World War II and again in the late 1960s. In both incidents, heroin use likely dropped because of impurities and escalating cost. Today, heroin is more pure and cheaper because of a large supply coming from countries such as Afghanistan.
It is also easier to obtain and less expensive than prescription drugs.
Heroin use conjures up visions of addicts sharing dirty hypodermic needles, but the stigma isn’t necessarily the case because heroin can also be inhaled or smoked.
Marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs can all be a gateway to heroin, and law abiding citizens can unknowingly contribute indirectly to the crisis of heroin addiction. It might be the honor graduate next door who slips a few pills out of your medicine cabinet or your favorite niece who takes gulps of your adult beverage. Let the word spread that the best place for these items is behind lock and key. At the very least, they should be hard to find.
An overdose occurs in our country every 19 minutes, and more than 3,000 people died from heroin overdose in 2010. It is vital to be aware and beware that heroin exists in utopia! Attack the smack and prevent another vital statistic … a toddler did.
Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs monthly in the Marietta Daily Journal.