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Heroin: The Leading Cause of Death in Americans Under the Age of 50

If you haven’t heard, the United States is currently amidst its worst health care crisis in history. National reports show more people die of heroin overdoses than of gun deaths, including homicide and suicide.  Opiate overdoses are responsible for more deaths in 2015 than HIV/AIDS did in the height of the epidemic in 1995. Heroin is thought to be possibly the worst drug out there because of the damage it does to users and the excruciating detox process that comes with it. Heroin overdose is now the leading cause of death in Americans under the age of 50.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug in the opioid family processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance collected from the seed of the pod of the opium poppy which grows in southern Asia. These target opioid receptors in the brain which release dopamine, and causes a high level of pleasure. These were initially used to relieve pain, but in higher doses opiates induce an extreme feeling of euphoria, which makes it a popular drug of choice for abusers. These are debatably more often abused than used in proper medical doses.

Not only is heroin pleasurable, but detoxing is extremely painful. Heavy heroin users dread the come down which can scare any addict back into using. Detoxing from heroin can cause shakes, jitters, sweating nausea, vomiting and severe pain. At this point in the detox process, many have considered and attempted suicide. I knew a man who promised his parents he would never use again. After attempting detox at home alone, he left a suicide note stating that this was the only way he could keep his promise.

I could write an entire essay on the detox process of heroin, but nothing from a medical standpoint could really paint as clear a picture as my own family experience. A few years ago, I laid next to my 28-year-old brother, in a pool of sweat while he tossed and turned continuously begging me to get him any kind of prescription opiates. He would spend 20 minutes locked in the bathroom while I listened to him vomit and dry heave. Then, he would crawl back into bed and continue to groan in pain. It was beyond heartbreaking. Here was my hero, my best friend who had woken me up every Christmas morning to open presents, in excruciating pain begging me to help him. Reliving the pain would mean continuing the addiction that had so rapidly taken him from me at the age of 25.

Heroin Does not Discriminate

You may have an image in your head of what a heroin addict looks like, where someone who does heroin might be found. Who are they? Heroin addiction in white men between the ages of 18-45 has doubled in the past 10 years. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reported that approximately 586,000 people over the age of 12 experienced a heroin addiction in the U.S. These people are your friends, your family, your medical professionals, your maintenance men, your beauticians, and baristas. No one is safe from the hands of addiction and all it takes is a broken ankle to get your first prescription of Vicodin to kick start your opiate dependence. Opioid prescriptions are being handed out to Americans of all ages to treat anything from toothaches to back surgery. Opiate prescriptions sold in the U.S. have quadrupled since 1999. So, while the DEA is kicking in doors of opium dens, our legal opiate addiction is starting in our trusted medical facilities by our own doctors.

On my 22nd birthday, I spent the day in bed popping opiate-based pills I was prescribed after two unsuccessful surgeries. A few weeks after my third surgery I felt good enough to stop taking my pain relief prescription. When I started to feel sick I went back to my primary physician to explain my symptoms with genuine confusion. Without blinking an eye she said, “You are going through opiate withdrawal, it will pass” I can tell you first hand that the information is not being given to patients of the risk that comes with taking prescription opiates. I was also the first to inform my mother that the prescription pills she was taking for her back were the same ones that kick-started her son’s heroin addiction five years earlier. She had no idea that what she was taking had any addictive properties or were classified as opiates.

President Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971 with a public statement declaring drug abuse “public enemy number one.” Between 2015 and 2016 more people died from opiate overdoses than in the entire Vietnam War. The number of deaths is growing at an alarming rate. Detox centers are cycling heroin addicts like a revolving door. Because of the red tape involved with insurance companies, people are not getting the help they are desperate for. So many people are going to treatment before they are ready and so many more are not getting the treatment they are so desperate for because of complications with finances and insurance coverage.

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Is There a Solution?

Medical detox and treatment centers have popped up all over the U.S. to assist addicts through the physically and emotionally painful process. AA and NA programs are available to anyone interested in emotional support with such addictions. The government is currently researching new drugs that may assist with detox pain as well as reducing cravings for addicts.

What can WE do?

First off, we can spread the word. Drug and alcohol addiction have become increasingly more acceptable in society. However, the information is still not readily available to people who are not experiencing addiction of close friends and family. Secondly, Narcan is a drug that has the capability to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. It is being suggested that people carry it in case of emergency situations where YOU may be in a position to save someone’s life simply by taking the time to obtain a prescription and keeping it on hand. I have kept it in my car for years in case of a situation where I had to use it on my brother. The chances of my having to use it on a complete stranger in public is are actually much higher. The idea that heroin is everywhere we turn may be alarming but it is the sad reality we live in today.

Getting Help at Wayside House

If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as services for medical professionals and veterans. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.

Testimonials

  • “Thank you Wayside for being there for her when she needed your help the most!!!”   Woohoo!!! 

  • Wayside taught me how to be a woman and live life clean & sober!

    Alexandra N.

  • “Wayside is more than treatment. It is a home. I grew up emotionally in that little house. I was there for 9 months and they were the best 9 months of my life. To have time to learn about yourself and take the time to focus on yourself is such a blessing. The plants I planted are still there. I see them in the photos. Such a special place!!”

    Amanda O.

  • This is an excellent treatment facility and all women down in Delray Beach, FL. …if you have anything you can send to help these young/older women, believe me anything is appreciated. This place and God did wonders for my girl.

    Amy G

  • Wayside House is where i went to rehab & they are AMAZING!! Its a 90 day program & alot of the girls have absolutely nothing when they move into the house. If your feel generous, or just want to help, it’s a worthy cause!!  Mandy W.

  • “What a rich heritage Wayside House has!”

    Allen S.

  • “It was so nice to hear from Wayside House.  I am still employed and I love my job!!! I will have 9 months on the 21st of October…..All thanks to Wayside and you ladies at the Posner Center!!!!🤗”

    Rita P.

  • “Tonight’s Wayside House Anniversary meeting and listening to the journey’s with 1,2,6,22,29 and 33 years in sobriety empowered my heart! So happy for one of the girls I sent to Wayside House.”

    Katrin O.

  • “Wayside does such good work in our community.” 

    Jan S.

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    Delray Beach, FL 33483

    What People Are Saying

    • “I have always supported Wayside House — I know women who have come through their program and support all they do. If you don’t know about this fabulous place I encourage you to become involved and find out more — they are an anchor in Delray Beach and their history speaks for itself.” 

      Nancy S.

    • “I went through Wayside House & it was the first place that actually felt like home to me. The staff actually care about their clients and their sobriety. I worked through so much here without fear of being judged. I love wayside & it will always have a special place in my heart along with ALL the amazing women who work there.”

      Mandy W

    • I so wish I could tell the girls how much Wayside saved my life,  and after 31 years sober, it still is just “One Day at a Time” and “The Serenity Prayer.” I will always remember those first days of being at Wayside and how the girls , the counselors , and the House put me back on track to living a fulfilled and Sober life . I followed the AA steps, got a wonderful sponsor and have followed that path ever since. — Pamela R.

    • “Thank you Wayside for being there for her when she needed your help the most!!!”   Woohoo!!! 

    • Wayside taught me how to be a woman and live life clean & sober!

      Alexandra N.

    • “Wayside is more than treatment. It is a home. I grew up emotionally in that little house. I was there for 9 months and they were the best 9 months of my life. To have time to learn about yourself and take the time to focus on yourself is such a blessing. The plants I planted are still there. I see them in the photos. Such a special place!!”

      Amanda O.

    • This is an excellent treatment facility and all women down in Delray Beach, FL. …if you have anything you can send to help these young/older women, believe me anything is appreciated. This place and God did wonders for my girl.

      Amy G

    • Wayside House is where i went to rehab & they are AMAZING!! Its a 90 day program & alot of the girls have absolutely nothing when they move into the house. If your feel generous, or just want to help, it’s a worthy cause!!  Mandy W.

    • Allen S.

      “What a rich heritage Wayside House has!”

    • Rita P.

      “It was so nice to hear from Wayside House.  I am still employed and I love my job!!! I will have 9 months on the 21st of October…..All thanks to Wayside and you ladies at the Posner Center!!!!🤗”

    • Katrin O.

      “Tonight’s Wayside House Anniversary meeting and listening to the journey’s with 1,2,6,22,29 and 33 years in sobriety empowered my heart! So happy for one of the girls I sent to Wayside House.”

    • Jan S.

      “Wayside does such good work in our community.” 

    • Leah J.

      “I just wanted to thank you for how you and the team make the world a better place.  I won’t claim to understand the things you sacrifice, but you are truly wonderful for doing so.“

    • Janine T.

      “I  highly recommend Wayside Women’s in Delray Beach. My daughter completed their wonderful program, she’ll have 2 years July 1st. They have an active alumni. I couldn’t say enough good things about them, they’ve been doing this since mid70’s.”

    • Stacy J.

      “ Thankful for my sobriety and for Wayside! “

    • Susan B.

      “Wayside House was and is an amazing place to me. I am on a journey that is better than I could have ever imagined. The strength of the women that came before me, that are beside me, and those that are there now teach me how to live “.

    • Lisa D.

      “Wayside saved my life and I will never be able to repay them for everything they have done for me.”

    • Dolores A.

      “Wayside house saved my daughter’s life. She transformed into the beautiful woman I knew she could be. It’s only been a few months but one day at a time she and I are enjoying her recovery journey!!!”

    • Jeanne H.

      “We appreciate all that you do to help individuals in recovery, demonstrating God’s love in our community. Your staff at Wayside House continue to help in so many ways, women and their families that need the love, care and support that you are able to provide. Thank you so much for all you do for them.  May God continue to bless you, your staff and your volunteers each and every day for the light you provide for our community.”

    • Susan C.

      “ Wayside is “the light”! Congratulations on the article in the Palm Beach Post
      for all you do to make the commitment to help those in need.”

    • Lynne B.

      “I will always be grateful to Wayside for giving my daughter the tools and knowledge to live a sober life on the outside. You changed her life thank you thank you thank you, may all the people that pass through your wonderful cozy house succeed in sobriety as well.”

    • Katy B.

      “I am sober and happy today thanks to Wayside.”

    • A.D.

      “Having the opportunity to go to Wayside was the best thing I’ve ever done. They lovingly deconstructed my life so I could put it back together. They are a serious program that gave me the ability to understand myself in a way I never thought was possible. They didn’t baby me and they taught me how to be beautifully authentic with myself and those around me. I really can’t thank them enough.”

    • Susan T.

      “Please keep up your wonderful work; the kids of south Florida need you.”

    • Jaimie K.

      “I am making this donation and thank you for all you do!”

    • Pam H.

      “Celebrating 29 years 7/22/2016. Sponsoring, 3-5 meetings a week, and forever grateful to Wayside House!”

    • Laura B.

      “I will be celebrating my 17th year clean and sober.  PLEASE share with the celebrants that I am with them in spirit even though I can’t be with them.  Wayside rocks!  Remind them to stay until the magic happens.”

    • BH alumni

      “I just want to give a shout out to the Wayside staff and alumni who organized and participated in the first annual gratitude dinner. The entire evening was absolutely devine! Wayside House saved my life and I am so very happy that you are at the helm.”

    • Brenda

      “Just walking down memory lane! I Love Wayside House! I went through twice!!
      LOL!! Clean and sober today! Love to all the women! XOXO”

    • Ashley

      “Thank you to Marlies and the Posner Center because without your guidance I wouldn’t have been pushed to pursue what I love and want out of a job and school. You’re amazing!”

    • Colletta D.

      “Proud to be a donor supporter of your efforts.”

    • Sara W.

      “Wayside House saved my life. It was a place that gave me a purpose to follow my dreams. And gave me a life that I never thought could be possible. It is a place where God lives in the lives of so many recovering women. Thank you.”

    • Andrea S.

      “So many miracles and beautiful souls are at Wayside. It’s a very special place.”

    • Phoebe M.

      “What an incredible gift to have gone to Wayside House.  Keep up the great work!”

    • Kathy G.

      “I’m so grateful to be a Wayside Winner 12/89 . One day at a Time.”

    • Christine D.

      “I have to commend Wayside House. They are a 1st class treatment center.”

    • Christine A.

      “I went through Wayside House in 1991 and have been clean and sober for 23 years. I have had four children, two grandchildren, and am happily married. The aftercare and parenting groups that Wayside had is something that helped me so very much as a new parent who was fairly new in recovery. I now have a Bachelor’s degree in social work and am working on a Master’s degree in counseling specializing in addictions counseling. If I had not been placed in Wayside House so many years ago I would have never been able to achieve the things that I have in my life. I am forever grateful for the blessing it has had in my life!”

    • Jeffrey Lane Esq., Weiner, Lynne & Thompson P.A.

      “Wayside is the benchmark by which I hold other similar facilities too.”

    • John Lehman, President FARR

      “I know many women whose lives have been greatly impacted by the quality support they experienced while enrolled and residing in your program. My first hand knowledge dates back to 1980 and I can attest to Wayside’s long tradition of excellence.”

    • J.L.

      “Wayside House saved my sobriety at a critical time in my life. My HP knew I needed to be there and surrounded by strong women who believed in me. Thank you!”

    • Evelyn H.

      “ My life has changed very deeply. I have been given the gift of life in sobriety and treating it like a present.”

    • Cynthia F.

      “I hated God & tried not to believe in any higher power before getting sober. Now I know that each day is a gift and
      that all things are possible through my spiritual connection. All of life is a miracle and for the ultimate good.”

    • Liz D.

      “I just wanted to send my gratitude and thanks for all you have done for me and thousands of women out there recovering from addictions.”

    • Sally W.

      “God bless your work at Wayside.”

    • T.P.

      “Thank you for all that you have done to make me experience Wayside and the true change in my life through this program. I am grateful.”

    • Cindy

      “To all of you fortunate enough to celebrate the holidays at Wayside, I hope you find peace and happiness.
      My Christmas at Wayside was one of the best ever as I received the lasting gift of sobriety. God Bless you all!”

    • Anonymous

      “ My children have been returned and I have found God.”

    • Anonymous

      “Wayside House and God have given me a life I never thought I deserved.”

    • Anonymous

      “Wayside House played a very big role in treating our daughter. We will be forever grateful for you and our blessings from the Lord.”

    • Anonymous

      “ I have restored relationships with my family and learned how to love others. I am accountable, help and trust others and enjoy living life. I have peace and I don’t worry. I know that everything is going to be OK. I also attend three meetings a week and sponsor several women.”

    • Anonymous

      “ By spending time with my awesome God every morning who saved me by touching my life while at Wayside. God continues to draw me close to him.”

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