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2015 Drug Trends in New York

New York has seen an incredible jump in the percentage of person’s that are seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and drug addiction. Since 2010, the number of diagnosed dual addiction cases has risen from 9 percent to 36 percent. Over 300,000 people were admitted for treatment in the past few years. Heroin has become known as the drug of choice that knows no preference for class, gender or age. It is thought to be coming into the state through the developed delivery routes in New Jersey, which remains a more prominent trafficking state. Sadly, while the numbers of people needing treatment has risen over the past decade, the number of funded treatment centers and programs has dropped.

Why is heroin the new drug of choice?

Heroin is fast becoming the drug of choice in New York. Its use is fastest growing among men ages 35 and up. It is estimated that over 65% of men over 35 who have sought treatment have abused heroin as their primary drug of choice. There are many reasons for the rise of heroin. For one, it is considered to be a companion drug to prescription opioids. Opioids can be prohibitively expensive, heroin is a very cheap alternative that provides a similar high. Many addicts will also use heroin to control withdrawal symptoms and then discover that it is a cheap and readily available high and adopt it as a primary drug. It is also a drug that has gained more social acceptance as a recreational drug. Its continued media exposure as the drug of choice for celebrities helps to reinforce its appeal. It is cheap, easily found and present in most social and class circles.

What other drugs are of concern in New York?

Marijuana continues to be the drug that is most abused daily in New York. There is a rising trend towards the use of prescription drugs as well. The combination with alcohol and heroin is causing a rise in overdose deaths as well. The major drug next to marijuana and heroin is cocaine in use. Crack cocaine is not as prevalent and its use has been statistically dropping over the past decade. Regular cocaine use is on the rise, affecting the same age group as heroin.

Who uses the most drugs in New York?

Drug use is on the rise in New York across all class and age groups. In the percentages of persons being treated for drug use or overdose, over 70% of them are male. The largest group of rising drug users is men in their late 30s to early 40s. Youth drug use is continuing to rise with over 35% of all 12 year olds reporting regular use of marijuana and having tried other drugs. There is no one class or group in New York that is considered to be at the highest risk of drug use outside of all males within the state. One thing that is considered to contribute to the high numbers across groups is the continued high rates of alcohol abuse. Alcohol remains one of the most socially acceptable drugs to abuse and remain addicted to in society.

What about illegal prescription drug use?

New York also has a growing problem with illegal prescription drug use. This is both occurring on a street level with a direct purchase and use of the drugs by those who were not prescribed them, and on by persons who have been prescribed the drugs but are not taking them as directed. There were over 24,000 cases of opioid overdose/death treated by emergency medical teams and centers in New York in 2013. Opioid prescription abuse is a rising problem among those under 18 and over 60. The drugs are most commonly acquired for free from family or friends, or purchased on the streets.

Are drugs getting better or worse in New York?

Over 1 and a half percent of all deaths in New York are due to drug overdose. An uncalculated number is caused by complications due to drug addiction. With a steadily rising problem with heroin, marijuana and a traditional problem with alcohol, it is estimated that 1 million people are currently addicted to a substance in the state. The number of treatment facilities and programs in the state has fallen despite the rising need for treatment options. This is due to cuts in funding and rising tax rates that discourage private treatment centers and close the doors on public programs.

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