America’s Addiction Epidemic: It’s Not Just Heroin

Over the course of the last few years, the media has been jumping on the bandwagon of the growing heroin epidemic taking place throughout America. Documentaries like HBO’s “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA” and the recent Frontline documentary detailing the opioid epidemic on PBS have brought the heroincrisis to the forefront of the American consciousness.

Although the solutions seem to be evading politicians and community leaders, there is little doubt where this heroin epidemic began: Big Pharma incentivizing doctors, who had little to no training on pain, pain management and addiction, to prescribe powerful prescription opioids which in turn created an environment of overprescribing powerful opioids. When doctors began cutting back on prescribing opioids, the nation of physically addicted people turned to the cheaper, more potent alternative of heroin. Simple math. A simple domino effect.

That being said, the media circus surrounding the ongoing heroin epidemic is missing the main point and the main problem that the country is dealing with: America has an ADDICTION problem, not just a heroin problem.

Focusing on heroin is just the tip of the iceberg. Focusing on heroin is taking the focus away from the larger issues. Focusing on heroin is making politicians focus on harm reduction models rather than prevention or drug education. In fact, in many areas like here in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, it is taking the focus away from an actual solution: addiction treatment.

Heroin is not the issue, ADDICTION is the issue. Recently, articles focusing on anxiety prescription drug overdoses and a horrific alcohol issue amongst attorneys were put out in the media. There is no doubt that the nation is facing an ADDICTION crisis and not just a heroin epidemic.

The answers begin with breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health in this country. Educating the country about addiction as the biggest public health epidemic in America. Breaking down barriers of middle and high schools that do not want prevention education and open communication regarding drugs, alcohol and mental illness. Increasing access to addiction treatment, good, quality comprehensive treatment. Forcing insurance companies to truly treat addiction as the chronic, progressive disease that it is so that it will pay for the necessary long term treatment.

The heroin crisis in America should not be the beginning of the conversation. The heroin epidemic is the end result of America not focusing on addiction in the correct way. Heroin is not the problem, nor has it ever been. In order to combat and overcome the addiction epidemic in America, we need to stop focusing on just heroin and realize we are facing a problem that is much bigger. It’s not just heroin or prescription opioids. It’s our over medication, quick fix society. It’s the stigma we have against addiction and mental illness. It is the barriers we’ve built that make it entirely too difficult to create solutions. It’s our own discomfort and fear. We need to focus on more than just the heroin epidemic and we need to go above and beyond in order to fix the addiction epidemic in America.

If you or someone you know is in need of help because of drug and/or alcohol abuse or addiction, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment in the Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on all of our drug addiction and alcohol addiction services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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About the Author

Zachary Snitzer

Zach Snitzer is the Corporate Director of Marketing at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center and is responsible for the business development, marketing, branding, public relations and social media strategies of the organization.