A monster has escaped the dark streets of the inner city. It lurks undetected in the suburbs now, preying on the souls of the innocent.
What picture comes to mind when I say,”Junkie?”
Do you see a scruffy unkempt man or woman in dirty clothes? Are they desperately begging for change or shooting up dope in some dark alley? Are they homeless or crazy? Does a foul stink follow behind them? Is the person wandering the street with an emotionless stare?
This is an image we’ve all carried with us since the D.A.R.E. programs were implemented in elementary school. Images and stories we get from the Internet or the local news only add to this belief. This is an image we need to shatter.
To see the new face of addiction . . . Simply look in the mirror.
Addiction has infiltrated the security that the suburbs used to provide. A junkie might be your neighbor or your best friend. It could be your doctor, the lawyer, or even the judge. The monster, that is addiction, does not care who you are or what you do for a living. Addicts are getting younger and younger. Teens and young adults sneak into bathrooms and look behind the medicine cabinet mirror.
The middle class accepts pills, because a doctor is the drug dealer, therefor they must be safe. Pills don’t carry the stigma of heroin or crack. You swallow a capsule, as directed, and forget about it. Drugs, in the form of prescription pills can be found easily in the suburbs, where healthcare is commonplace, as well as good jobs, and plenty of money.
You might say, “So what, pills are different.”
Research is now showing that prescription opioids are a key gateway drug for teenagers who begin to use heroin. The Center for Disease Control has reported that one in eight high school seniors will use painkillers without a prescription.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 introduced to heroin has grown by 80 percent since 2002. The number of heroin-related deaths has also more than doubled among young adults. The vast majority – close to 90 percent – of teen heroin addicts are white, and many reside in the safe haven of the suburbs.
This problem is two fold. The new gateway drug is prescriptions pills, which are almost exclusively found in the ‘burbs. Combine this with the outdated image of a junkie stuck in our heads, and we have the makings of a perfect assassin. One that could kill your brother, sister, son, daughter, or best friend, before you even know there’s a problem.
Today’s junkie may look like me – a tall, clean-cut, white man in glasses, wearing a button up shirt and V-neck sweater. He or she may smell nice, may have a good job, and pay their bills on time. Today’s junkie may have a nice house in a safe subdivision. They may never, at any point, appear to have a drug problem . . . Until it’s too late!