Drug addiction is a growing problem in the United States, especially among young adults. One drug specifically is rapidly claiming young victims — heroin. What was once a hard-hitting drug taken up by those who had been using for quite some time has become a drug of choice for new users. It is the face of young drug use, and it must be stopped. But how?

What’s Happening With Heroin?

Before you can tackle a problem, you must fully understand what is happening. When it comes to heroin, demographics of users are changing. Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in the past 10 years the number of heroin addicts between ages 18 and 25 has doubled. In 2013, half a million Americans used heroin at least once, a 150 percent increase over six years.

With increased heroin usage comes increased deaths. Since 2002, the number of deaths from heroin overdose has quadrupled. Why such a dramatic increase in heroin use?

Why Heroin?

One large factor in heroin’s spread is price and availability, both elements that appeal to young audiences. Heroin is cheap and readily available. It’s easy to fall into drug addiction when you feel like your “casual” drug use — heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked — is so simple. How could a truly dangerous drug be so widely used and easy to get a hold of?

Compounding with price and availability is the link between prescription painkillers and heroin addiction. The active ingredients in painkillers and heroin are extremely similar, and heroin is cheaper and easier to get than prescription drugs. Those who begin to experience prescription drug addiction are likely to turn to heroin.

How Do We Stop It?

What can we do to fight heroin addiction in teens and young adults? It all begins with awareness and education. Children must understand the dangers of illegal drug use from a young age. Parents and mentors must strive to maintain open lines of communication so that young people can feel comfortable asking questions and sharing problems.

When loved ones have already fallen into addiction, we can work to help them receive appropriate addiction treatment. The 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary reports that individuals between the ages of 20 and 34 make up the largest group of people entering treatment facilities for heroin addiction.

Next Level Recovery works with clients and families to ensure that they receive personalized help/ With our support, young people fighting drug addiction can get the help they need.