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Care About What’s in Your Food? How About Your Heroin?

As our society has jumped deep into the world of healthy food over the last decade, it is common for consumers to demand to know all of the nutritional information and ingredients in every bite they consume. At McDonald’s, you can now view the exact calorie count of your various choices. And Starbucks proudly displays loads of “nutritional” information in its stores and on its websites.

Even in fine dining restaurants, the trend in our uber-healthy lifestyles is to list the ingredients in most dishes and to emphasize which are “vegan,” “hormone-free,”  and “low-calorie” (or a dozen other trigger words sure to please our health-conscience society).

This transparency is undoubtedly a good thing — the more we know what goes into our bodies, the healthier we can be, and the longer we can live. It seems that young people all across our nation have adopted health consciousness into some or all aspects of their lives.

Yet, seemingly without hesitation, tens of thousands of these once health conscious Americans slide down that slippery road of addiction into ingesting street drugs, which may contain a potpourri of chemicals, designer drug cocktails, or a dozen other ingredients hatched together by a strung out madman, hidden in a dark room hiding from the authorities.

Yet desperate drug addicts trust these madmen to supply them with a safe and sufficient hit for the day. The result is exactly what logic would dictate — the drugs purchased are often not what the addict expects. They often contain combinations of chemicals that kill EVERYONE that uses that batch.

Turn on the news any given day and you see stories of heroin overdoses from one or a dozen addicts. Cities are overwhelmed from coast to coast from heroin overdoses. The city of Seattle, in fact, has had so many overdoses that a map of such deaths from 2016 almost covers the entire city. This summer, Cincinnati experienced 174 heroin overdoses in six days.

Yet what does one expect buying a substance from a criminal enterprise that knowingly mixes various chemicals, drugs (often stronger than the heroin itself), or random ingredients into a substance the user shoots directly into their blood system?  A user that once wouldn’t trust a street taco vendor now puts his life in the hands of the Mexican drug cartel or street dealer desperate to sell the product to support his own habit.

How is it that the 15-year-old proud vegan that scours the menu at a local restaurant for each ingredient is found dead four years later from shooting up a batch of heroin that unknowingly contained lethal amounts of Fentanyl?

Like many of you, I hear about heroin overdoses every few days — including one this past weekend. It was a story of a young, innocent teenager who would ride his bike through the mountains of Utah, proud of the designer water and natural snacks he packed that day. A story of innocence transforming over time into the darkness and despair of drug addiction. A story with its final chapter just written of the 25-year-old relapsing addict found dead in a halfway house after buying and shooting up a bundle of despair mixed, made and sold by a madman in a back alley.

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: “Heroin” by Jordi Bernabeu is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.