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Why the 2016 Heroin Epidemic is Something You and Your Family Should Worry About

If you have children of any age, you need to be aware of the heroin epidemic affecting our country in 2016.  This is especially true if you have addiction in your family history.  This issue is increasing rapidly and something needs to be done to stop the epidemic.

In 2015, there were nearly 50,000 deaths due to drug overdoses — almost 1.5 times more than people that died in car accidents.

National Heroin Overdose Deaths Chart - CDC

Unfortunately, heroin addiction is increasing rapidly, and it is a drug that is extremely difficult to stop using. The only 100% cure is to never start.

The causes of the current heroin addiction problems are many:  (1) the over-prescribing of strong opioid drugs in the U.S., like OxyContin. These drugs are extremely addictive and are used by teenagers across the U.S.  After just a few months of usage, teenagers can be strongly addicted. This is even more dangerous for kids with addiction in their genes; (2) the widespread availability of cheap heroin in the U.S. These drugs flow across our open borders and the Mexican cartels are now easily able to transport heroin into every city in America. The result is cheap and quality heroin available in big and small cities across our country.

Once an individual becomes hooked on OxyContin (or other opiates), without treatment, it is almost impossible to stop using.  These pills, however, are expensive. Street price currently averages $80 per pill. This price often proves unsustainable for addicts, especially teens. The addict then realizes that heroin and OxyContin are chemically similar — yet Heroin can be obtained for $5 or $10 a dose, vs. $80 a pill. The change from pills to heroin happens quickly, and for thousands of Americans this change can happen within a week.

So what can we do?  It is a complex problem that will require massive changes in our society: (1) restrict access to OxyContin and other opiates to those who really need it, such as those with pain that cannot otherwise be controlled; (2) stop the flow of drugs across our porous borders; (3) educate children BEFORE THEY EXPERIMENT about the dangers of addiction (this is especially true for kids with addiction in their family).

Items (1) and (2) above will take massive change by our government, the medical industry and laws. Item (3) is something you can do today with your children, by discussing these issues openly and having them read helpful resources, such as My Dad is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen’s Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes. You can even encourage them wear a PotatoAllergy bracelet proudly — to show they are educated enough to know the dangers inside their DNA.

Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about substance abuse at You can also find and connect with the authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.

Photo: CDC/ Debora Cartagena

Marc Treitler

Marc enjoys spending time with his family and their new Yorkie puppy, Coco. He is an executive of a utility company, which keeps him very busy and allows him to travel throughout the country. When Marc isn’t working or on his phone, his hobbies include: embarrassing his wife and kids, convincing his daughter that boys are bad, passing his musical tastes to his son, cleaning-up puppy pee inside the house, and talking politics to anyone that will listen.