The majority of British citizens are aware to one degree or another of the heroin problem in United Kingdom. In a very general sense, people know that heroin is a very dangerous drug and that a lot of people use it and become addicted to it. But beyond that, most people go through their day-to-day lives without any awareness of the true magnitude of the addiction epidemic in this country – and it is an epidemic. For example, according to Public Health England there are almost 300,000 addicts of heroin and crack in the country.
OVERDOSE ON THE RISE
Heroine cooking processThe death of Hollywood actor Philip Seymour Hoffman recently that resulted from an apparent heroin overdose managed to put a familiar face on the issue of addiction and put it back on the forefront of the collective Western conscience. But his celebrity status notwithstanding, his death made him, in terms of heroin addiction, part of a statistic that is becoming a scourge in this Western society Death from drug overdose has experienced a fivefold increase in the last quarter century, much of these deaths being experienced North America. From a statistical standpoint, most heroin addiction starts with the abuse of prescription painkillers. The addiction of fully eighty percent of all heroin addicts in the U.S. can be traced back to the initial use of prescription painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, and others.
MOST HEROIN ADDICTS START OUT AS PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLER ADDICTS
With the increase in the use of prescription painkillers comes the increase in the use of heroin. A report by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that in 2012 335,000 Americans, or 0.11 percent, had reported using heroin at some point in the past month. That is double the number that reported using it in the past month in 2002 which was 166,000 people or 0.06 percent.
SEARCHING FOR GOD, FINDING ADDICTION
It may be surprising to many people who do not suffer from drug addiction in general and heroin addiction in particular that the cause of the problem has very heavy religious undertones. That is to say, it has been found that many addicts are looking to “get high” because they want to feel closer to God. M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist and former drug addict, wrote in his book The Road Less Traveled that people inherently feel an internal separation from their Source; from their Maker. Even if they are atheistic in their beliefs, on at least a subconscious level we all know there is a disconnect between us and the One Who made us, and we are constantly looking for anything that will close that gap. For many people heroin is seen as a way to connect with God. It eases our pain and allows us to temporarily feel the way we think being in the full presence of God feels. But while the feeling is temporary it is extremely powerful and the brain quickly develops an insatiable need to experience that feeling all the time and that’s where addiction comes in.
In a society as stressful and chaotic as ours, drugs are seen as an escape by those who use them. As good as they may make someone feel for a time, addition to them is killing people in Western society and around the world. And as evidenced by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, that addiction does not discriminate.