The rise and impact of heroin use is perceived all across the United States. As time goes by, the face of heroin addiction has changed from the stereotypical notion of low income or urban inner city to Americans residing in suburban and rural areas throughout the country. The reality of this highly addictive drug is that it does not discriminate who it affects, and it is becoming increasingly prevalent in affluent areas across the country.
The conversation of heroin addiction has changed drastically throughout the years. A recent study shows that the majority of users are young men and women in their late 20s who reside outside of large cities. In these areas, it usually begins with a doctor’s prescription of narcotics and evolves into the much more accessible and affordable drug. This results in our own medical system aiding to the benefit of illegal drug dealers as heroin addiction increases in suburban areas.
This has stressed the importance of declaring heroin a public health problem that exists everywhere, including outside of the inner-city limits. Teenagers in affluent suburban areas, such as towns outside of Los Angeles and Boston, are increasingly susceptible to the risks of addiction. Those involved in athletics are at a higher risk for prescription pill addictions due to sports related injuries. Being located just outside the hubs of major cities, the social circles of young suburban teens can also lead to easy accessibility of illegal drugs such as heroin.
The effects of heroin addiction hit rural areas like Oregon and Idaho particularly hard because of the lack of treatment options available in the area. Due to the physical nature of jobs in rural and farming states, like Vermont, many addictions begin as workplace injuries. What starts out as a reliance on prescription pills turns into heroin use in order to fulfill the addiction. Isolation from major cities has contributed to an environment where there is not enough law enforcement and emergency responders to respond quickly to drug abuse situations, leaving rural areas particularly vulnerable to the influx of heroin use.
Rural and farming areas also lag behind metropolitan cities economically, which can result in resident’s self-medicating for symptoms of chronic economic stress. The social factor of the smaller population size of these towns can also directly correlate with the predominance of heroin addiction within them. Rural residents tend to interact with a larger social circle, presenting more opportunities for drug access. Boredom in a small town can create a void in young adult’s lives that can very easily be filled with drug use.
The amount of overdose-related deaths in rural communities has recently surpassed those rates in urban areas. Ultimately, the prominence of heroin addiction is not strictly a rural area issue but it does present a unique problem to these areas with the lack of resources and treatment centers available.
Historically, the face of heroin addiction was imagined as minorities living in low-income areas of metropolitan cities. Although the heroin epidemic began prominently within urban areas, it has become worse in rural and suburban areas throughout the years. That isn’t to say that heroin addiction no longer presents an issue in big cities. New York City has experienced increasing numbers of heroin related deaths each year.
Large cities have larger supplies of the street drug and is also affordable to those living there. The physical environment of a big city, like Chicago for example, also contributes to the spread of heroin abuse by allowing access and security to dealer locations. For instance, abandoned buildings and housing in inner city areas provide ideal space for illegal drug dealing. Certain locations, such as public transportation stations and hotels, also offer certain ecological advantages like being easily accessible and drawing crowds to disguise dealings into the surroundings.
Heroin Use is Everywhere
The fact is that heroin addiction can be prevalent anywhere. The supply and affordability of this dangerous drug continues to grow and spread within rural, suburban, and urban communities alike. The good news is that the country as a whole is working to make drug treatment resources more widespread and accessible to those in need.