“Kids are Different Today”

The average heroin user is white, mid-20s, and living in the suburbs or the country (via):

Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.

The good news, in New York state at least, is that every cop will soon be carrying Narcan (naloxolone) which is incredibly effective at reversing overdose:

The success of naloxone in combatting opioid overdoses cannot be overstated. Since the fall of 2010, the police department of Quincy, Massachusetts, the first department in the nation to require its officers to carry naloxone, has used the drug 221 times and successfully reversed 211 overdoses (as of February), a success rate of over 95%. In New York’s Suffolk County, 563 lives were saved last year alone.

The money for the program comes from seized drug assets. It’s nice to see a state AG stand up and announce something drug-related that will actually help people. Savor it, because it’s pretty rare.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

72 replies
  1. 1
    ant says:

    If addics were able to buy the drug at a regulated, and known strength, they would’t OD unless they wanted to.

  2. 2
    Ben Cisco says:

    It’s nice to see a state AG stand up and announce something drug-related that will actually help people.

    I refer you to the first sentence of your post.

    /theresareasonforthat

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    Realizing that an addict’s life has value, too, is probably one of the knock on effects of the whitening of the crisis. Sorry to be so cynical. White heroin use has been on the rise, I think, in Vermont and maybe Maine. When white voter’s kids start keeling over and the police can save them with Nalocan it gets done, after a few false starts.

  4. 4
    Belafon says:

    It’s probably my getting more tuned into our continuing targeting of minorities, but when I read

    Our data show that the demographic composition of heroin users entering treatment has shifted over the last 50 years such that heroin use has changed from an inner-city, minority-centered problem to one that has a more widespread geographical distribution, involving primarily white men and women in their late 20s living outside of large urban areas.

    I hear two things:
    1. That we weren’t accurately figuring out how many whites were doing heroin because that would have involved arresting more whites.
    2. The only reason they’re doing something now is it looks like whites are being affected.

  5. 5
    Kropadope says:

    @aimai:
    I’ve actually seen a lot of anti-drug people, mainly family members, move away from their hard-line penal solution to drug users. Treatment and even legalization in some cases has won them over. It’s hard to want to throw them in jail when it’s your own family and classmates.

  6. 6
    Slugger says:

    About 25 years ago I heard a lecturer who showed a map of ER visits for heroin overdoses around Indianapolis showing a random scatter, but the map for heroin arrests showed a clear predominance in the inner city. He said that law enforcement efforts do not fall equally on all citizens and create misleading sterotypes about the lawbreakers.

  7. 7
    NonyNony says:

    @ant:

    If addics were able to buy the drug at a regulated, and known strength, they would’t OD unless they wanted to.

    There is some support for that (from the article):

    According to the study, caucasian women and men have embraced prescription pills as their drug of choice. But heroin, which is much cheaper, eventually becomes more attractive.

    Police have been cracking down these last few decades on prescription drug abuse, which is at least part of why heroin is now cheaper than prescription pills.

    Of course, prescription drug abuse has LOOOONG been the scourge of suburban drug abuse (along with alcohol, of course). I remember it being a big deal for the “DARE” crap that they made us sit through in the late 80s at my suburban middle school. That’s why police have been cracking down so heavily on it – because it’s impact is most strongly felt in the upper-middle class suburban areas. Well it’s working – and its driving those folks abusing prescription pills to heroin. Time to clamp down on heroin again and the heroin abusers will move to something else (if they can – heroin is a hell of a drug and not easy to get off of).

    There’s also the body adapting to the prescription dosages and not getting the high anymore dynamic as well – eventually an addict is going to need to move onto heavier stuff to get the same high. That isn’t helped by making heroin cheaper than their drug of choice – if anything that just speeds things up.

    I think this (from the article) is ultimately correct:

    “We are trying to cut down on the amount of heroin available, but we aren’t really addressing the problem,” he says. “We need to focus a lot more on why people find these drugs so attractive [or] we aren’t going to be solving the abuse problem at all.”

    If you want to cut off the illegal drug trade, it needs to be from the demand side. You can mess with the supply all you want, but unless you cut demand you’re just raising the price for the users of an inelastic good that they’ll just keep buying. You need to figure out how to stop the demand (or more realistically cut it way back – there will probably always be a small market for drugs that seriously mess you up, I guess).

  8. 8
    NCSteve says:

    Once upon a time, conservatives would have hesitated to suggest that saving the lives of addicts was a bad thing. Now it’s just a matter of betting on which one will say it first. My money’s on Limbaugh.

  9. 9
    Belafon says:

    @NCSteve: If you save other addicts, it drives the prices of his drugs way up.

  10. 10
    jonas says:

    @NCSteve: IIRC the governor of Maine declined to allow state police there to carry Narcan because otherwise addicts “would never learn”.

  11. 11
    kdaug says:

    @NCSteve: Rush “Oxycontin” Limbaugh? You jest.

  12. 12
    Hobbes says:

    I believe that the relative ease of the codeine>morphine>heroin process keeps the price of heroin low where-ever codeine is readily available.

  13. 13
    WereBear says:

    @NonyNony:

    “We are trying to cut down on the amount of heroin available, but we aren’t really addressing the problem,” he says. “We need to focus a lot more on why people find these drugs so attractive [or] we aren’t going to be solving the abuse problem at all.”

    This has always been true, and yet it cannot gain traction. Not when you have a whole bunch of people with a lust to punish and destroy running things.

    Our job is not to make people happy. Well, yes, stupid, yes it is. Or, at least, not stop them from achieving it, and making it so drugs are the only way they can.

  14. 14
    mai naem says:

    @NCSteve: nah, I think Limbaugh will ignore the topic because of his addiction issues. This one might be one for Bill OReilly or Mark Levin. OT, I cannot believe Mark Levin does radio. He’s got such a whiny high pitched voice. Totally inappropriate for radio.
    I have a friend whose son was on heroin. He was having a lot of emotional problems to the point there were times she felt threatened by him and would call the cops. He had had his first girlfriend and she thought he had changed because it was his first girlfriend,first lurrvv etc.etc. The gf and son split up and that’s when things went south. Not sure how they found out, but that’s when she found out that when she thought he was acting different because of the gf and the relationship, he was doing heroin with the gf. Her life’s been a nightmare. The son’s been in jail a few times. Once, for stealing an id(a wallet) and using that person’s credit card. The kids been on rehab. This is one kid who,BTW, I strongly feel would have benefited from free after school activities during HS. I mean totally free, not some sport where the sports site use if free but you have to spend several hundred dollars on equipment.

  15. 15
    Gypsy Howell says:

    @Ben Cisco:
    My exact first thought. Now that it’s a “white people” problem, we can do something about it.

    I was thinking of a similar situation with recent news stories about the 50th anniversary of the “Great Society” anti-poverty programs, and subsequent discussion that they could never be enacted today. When I was a kid in the early 60s, the public face of wretched, wrenching poverty to me was white Appalachia. I remember so many searing images of life in Appalachia (from Life Magazine and others like that, I suppose) – tumble-down cabins, no plumbing, no heat, no electricity, no food, no shoes on the kids. I wonder if putting this white stamp on poverty, as opposed to focusing on inner city black poverty, is what helped LBJ pass his anti-poverty programs.

  16. 16
    raven says:

    @Gypsy Howell: The Tea Party gets enough coverage.

  17. 17
    WaterGirl says:

    Speaking of wars…

    I was with family for a week and didn’t read BJ or see any news at all until I saw President Obama on the TV at the train station on the return trip home.

    Are we supposed to be mad because there will still be troops there after 2014, or are we mad that there won’t be more troops there? Are we mad because he’s ending the war, or that he isn’t ending it completely?

    It’s really hard to keep up when you’ve been away.

  18. 18
    Punchy says:

    Cops administering drugs? I wonder how trial lawyers will view this w/r/t wrongful death lawsuits against the po-po.

    Methinks they’ll be a pattern of accusations of misuse/misapplication of the drug by the not-properly-trained-in-dosing cops.

  19. 19
    raven says:

    @WaterGirl: I’m Mad!, like Al Capone. . . Like Sonny Liston yea!

  20. 20
    NonyNony says:

    @Gypsy Howell:

    I wonder if putting this white stamp on poverty, as opposed to focusing on inner city black poverty, is what helped LBJ pass his anti-poverty programs.

    Well, yeah. I think it’s pretty well-documented that right up until the CRA was signed, the Democratic Party was a coalition of labor, farmers, populists, and white Southern racists who didn’t have skin in the game as far as labor or populist issues went because they were still living in an area that hadn’t recovered from the Civil War yet. So yeah – the fact that most of the poverty that people knew about and talked about was WHITE poverty – mostly Southern, and mostly Democrat-voting – is a huge reason why both FDR and LBJ were able to get their respective social platforms passed.

    And it’s also probably the reason why, even though white poverty is still a huge issue all over the country and especially in the South, it’s downplayed today. Sometime in the 70s the “face” of poverty became inner-city black folks instead of rural white folks, and through the 80s and the 90s that continued. I’d blame a conspiracy, but I suspect that it’s more just that the South finally got its “Reconstruction” that stalled out after Lincoln was assassinated and the powers that be in the South got less mileage from being populists than they did for being unrepentant racists, and so they were less interested in highlighting rural poverty as an election issue and more interested in highlighting segregation (and using black people as bogeymen for every ill that those poor white rural folks suffered – just as they had for the previous hundred years, but now without having to actually provide anything at all for the poor white rural folks other than race baiting to get their votes).

  21. 21
    MikeJ says:

    @Punchy: Most places have shield laws preventing law suits against good Samaritans, and especially against public officials in the line of duty. Unless you could prove malice I don’t think you’d get far.

  22. 22
    Belafon says:

    @WaterGirl: According to the Washington Post, you’re supposed to be angry that our weak president refuses to continue fighting in Iraq/Afghanistan/Syria/Iran/Libya. According to those on the far left, you’re supposed to be angry that he’s leaving anyone in Afghanistan.

  23. 23
    Mandalay says:

    It’s nice to see a state AG stand up and announce something drug-related that will actually help people. Savor it, because it’s pretty rare.

    Yes, it’s mighty white of him.

  24. 24
    MikeJ says:

    @MikeJ: Also too, the standard does is 2mg/kg. The LD50 is 100mg/kg. That is so far beyond any therapeutic use that the only reason any subject has ever been given a dose that high was to determine the LD50.

  25. 25
    raven says:

    @Belafon:
    Well I don’t know what’s wrong or right
    I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
    I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
    And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
    Clowns to the left of me,
    Jokers to the right, here I am,
    Stuck in the middle with you.

  26. 26
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Where’s all that heroin coming from?

    Oh yeah, Afghanistan. Gotta keep those guys paid off so they don’t run riot and kill all the Americans left in the country!

    Addiction is just another hidden cost of our war of choice.

  27. 27
    jill says:

    That’s going to get a lot of policemen assaulted- having been a paramedic administering naloxone to heroin overdose patients, I can report that they generally aren’t grateful that you’ve restored their respiratory drive. They’re just really pissed of that you’ve ruined their high, and the money they spent on it.

  28. 28
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: Your song was perfect. Not because I’m mad, but because I’m feeling kind of blue. I had company for 3 weeks – a good friend for two and then family right after that, and then I took a trip to be with even more family.

    Now I’m back home and even making breakfast for one feels kind of lonely. I know it will pass, but it’s a bit of a shock after 3 weeks of easy companionship.

  29. 29
    rda909 says:

    So how many live shots and interviews has ‘lil Eddie Snowjob done from Russia? Seems like a weekly event now. Who knew it was so easy to be an American fugitive in Putin’s Russia and have basically unlimited air time in the media!

    TV studios with satellite/fiber connections, lights and broadcast cameras must be everywhere there, and not cost a dime to use! And how exactly is he paying for food, lodging, transportation to and from all his media appearances, and so on? As an American who has worked in Russia, I know how unlikely this is. Gee, I wonder why that’s happening?!? Whatever could it be…hmmm…

  30. 30
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @ant:
    Being able to buy heroin in regulated doses of known purity would cut down on overdoses, it wouldn’t eliminate them. Heroin addicts eventually reach a point where their maintenance dose is very close to an overdose. They don’t know that they’re on the verge of overdosing until it happens.

    I know this because I wrote a term paper on heroin addiction back in the 60’s. No, really.

  31. 31
    Sly says:

    @NCSteve:

    Once upon a time, conservatives would have hesitated to suggest that saving the lives of addicts was a bad thing. Now it’s just a matter of betting on which one will say it first.

    The go to drug warrior in Britain over the past few years has been Peter Hitchens, who opposes everything but putting people in jail and acting like a stuck-up scold. And I do mean everything, from treatment programs to drug courts to the very concept of addiction itself. If you thought Cristopher Hitchens was insufferable, you haven’t met his brother.

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:
    The heroin in the U.S. illicit drug market comes primarily from South and Central America.

  32. 32
    WaterGirl says:

    @Belafon: Okay, then. Angry it is!

    Sounds like the important thing is to just be angry at Obama, with the reason for anger being less important.

    In other words… nothing changed in the time I was away. Good to know.

  33. 33
    WaterGirl says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    I know this because I wrote a term paper on heroin addiction back in the 60′s. No, really.

    I wrote a paper in high school about marijuana and how it wasn’t really the gateway drug to heroin that they were saying it was.

  34. 34
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Belafon:

    I’m angry because Obama’s predecessor botched the was in Afghanistan in order to go cowboying off to Iraq, paid for neither war, and then left the mess for his successor to clean up. I’m angry because a major newspaper pays people who have never fired a shot in anger to advocate for more wars. I just don’t fit in anymore.

  35. 35
    El Tiburon says:

    @Belafon: Ditto that.

    I mean, good that something other than a club upside a dude’s head is happening, but if it were an inner-city blah doing the smack OD dance, I doubt cops would be so quick to assist.

  36. 36
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @WaterGirl:
    Shame on you! Everyone my age (mid 60s) knows that if you smoke pot you’ll hallucinate and kill your mom.

  37. 37
    Neldob says:

    Better drug education in school might help. Apparently the DARE program was a complete flop (according to the book ‘Clean’). Brown tar heroin costs less than a cocktail, use it twice a day for 2 days and you’re an addict. It’s everywhere, like pot. Just another benefit of our Afghanistan adventure. And the mafias are growing rich on it.

    And the Governor of Maine also insisted on painting over a historical depression era mural some years ago because it lionized workers and not so much corporations and management. Clod.

  38. 38
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @rda909: Sounds like propaganda to me. You’re not very good at it though.

    Yeah yeah, I know, don’t feed the trolls.

  39. 39
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @Neldob: I think the technical term for that person is “philistine”.

  40. 40
    BubbaDave says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    If she didn’t want me to keep hitting her with the bat she wouldn’t have been covered with all those metallic tarantulas that kept screaming at me in German.

  41. 41
    MikeJ says:

    @Neldob:

    It’s everywhere, like pot. Just another benefit of our Afghanistan adventure.

    We weren’t in Afghanistan in the 90s and heroin was everywhere then too. People like getting high. It wasn’t invented on September 11.

  42. 42
    Silencio says:

    This may already be well known around these parts, but Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is just an outstanding study of this question (how the “war on drugs” was, in effect, another twist in the history of racial/social control: arrest and harshly sentence blacks at wildly disproportionate rates).

    I was shocked to learn that the 1860-1945 practice of “convict leasing” in the South was, in many significant ways, similar to today’s “war on drugs.” (An illuminating work here is Slavery by Another Name.)

    Black neighborhoods get targeted. Blacks get arrested commonly for ‘x’; whites rarely get arrested for ‘x.’ Even after time served (or labor rendered), blacks have a criminal record (and stigma).

  43. 43
    Paul in KY says:

    Can anyone reply to ‘MikeJ’ comments? Numbers 21, 24, etc. I cannot & I think that is unusual.

  44. 44
    Seanly says:

    In 1990, I was at Lehigh University. In one of the admin buildings they had a showing of controversial pictures from the early 70’s. It was a series of B&W photos of heroin addicts in rural Oklahoma. I’m at work so I don’t want to google “photographs oklahoma heroin”. Around that same time, there were news reports about how heroin was making a comeback but with mostly white suburban college students.

  45. 45
    Paul in KY says:

    @Sly: I can imagine he’s a titanic dickhead.

  46. 46
    Belafon says:

    @Paul in KY: Nope, when I tried to reply to #21, FYWP ate my comment.

  47. 47
    kindness says:

    I grew up in the late 60’s/early 70’s. Drugs were routine for myself and many of my peers. The one drug I made a point of staying away from was heroin. I saw way too many talented and bright kids a few grades older than me become horrible junkies, many of whom died while I was still in high school. Now, I wasn’t always smart with my choices. I’ve burned more than my share of brain cells by doing any number of drugs I wouldn’t touch now, but it’s 40 years on now. I know better. I still do some psychoactive drugs. I’m just a lot pickier about which and when.

  48. 48
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @MikeJ: Heroin was everywhere in the 40’s and 50’s, too. Just look at the NY jazz scene from those years.

  49. 49
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Paul in KY: I just replied to his #41 without issues.

  50. 50
    catclub says:

    @Belafon: Also no. I tried. I guess silence is golden, or FYWP knows better.

  51. 51
    MikeJ says:

    @Gin & Tonic: You are absolutely correct.

  52. 52
    Paul in KY says:

    @Belafon: Something is not set up right or ‘MikeJ’ is a sockpuppet for someone. His posts sound/look like a normal persons. Wonder if he cares that many people cannot reply to his posts?

  53. 53
    Paul in KY says:

    @Gin & Tonic: He & the Murcafukyea idiot are the only 2 that I can remember having this difficulty with.

    You are special, it appears!

  54. 54
    Morzer says:

    Fun isn’t it that scientific and humane treatment works better than all the cheap moralizing, judging the “sinner”, and Bible-thumping the conservatives love to tell us is the “right” way to live?

  55. 55
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @BubbaDave:

    True, that. ROTFLMAO

  56. 56
    Mandalay says:

    @Paul in KY:

    Can anyone reply to ‘MikeJ’ comments? Numbers 21, 24, etc. I cannot & I think that is unusual.

    In the case of post 21 what is somewhat unusual is that you are trying to reply to a post that MikeJ had already replied to (post 24).

    We don’t often reply to our own posts, but in that scenario maybe FYWP gets confused and prevents other users replying to that original post? Stranger things have happened at sea.

  57. 57
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    every cop will soon be carrying Narcan (naloxolone)

    Of course they are now that it is a white people problem.

  58. 58
    Mandalay says:

    @Mandalay: Well I can’t reply to post #21 either. Can anyone reply to my post 56? If not I think there is a FYWP issue for mistermix to research.

  59. 59
    sparrow says:

    @NonyNony: The problem is, the answer to the “demand” problem is a lot of things we have no interest in solving as a society. Like childhood abuse and trauma, and the moral bankrupcy of our society. By the latter I do not mean the usual neo-con sense, but in the sense of a relentlessly consumeristic, status-obsessed, inhumane society.

    Years ago my Greek husband was listening to NPR, just after moving to the US (early 90s). They were interviewing a Russian poet who had just come to the states to give a reading. They asked him what he thought, expecting some positive comments. Instead he gave them, “Two words: Spiritual Desert”.

    Sorry to say that more and more I agree.

  60. 60
    cat says:

    The money for the program comes from seized drug assets. It’s nice to see a state AG stand up and announce something drug-related that will actually help people. Savor it, because it’s pretty rare.

    Now that they realize its a white people problem. Which I’m sure I’m the 58th person in this thread to state. I also bet the manufacture of Narcan has been lobbying pretty effectively as well.

  61. 61
    WaterGirl says:

    @Mandalay: My reply to #21 was eaten also. Just checking to see if this reply will work.

    Edit: Plus, I did a test reply to Omnes on 3 different threads, and they were all eaten, too.

  62. 62
    Silencio says:

    @cat: One other point: Since so many more blacks are arrested for drug crimes than whites, it follows that much of the property and assets seized by forfeiture laws come from blacks, or minorities more generally.

    So this program, sound and as effective as it many prove to be, will be funded in part by African-Americans who were/have been brutalized by the “war on drugs” for the past 30 years. Revenue generated by seizing property of minorities, to pay for a program that will chiefly benefit (presumably) white drug users.

  63. 63
    catclub says:

    @Paul in KY:

    the only 2 that I can remember having this difficulty with

    Yutsano had to change nym to Yatsuno because of it.

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    Of course they are now that it is a white people problem.

    Technically, it’s always been a white people problem. Numerically, there have always been more white addicts than black addicts, and IIRC that’s true proportionally as well (i.e. the number of black addicts to black non-addicts is in the same proportion as the number of white addicts to white non-addicts).

    But it was politically convenient to pretend it was a “black problem” since it meant you could incarcerate a bunch of black people and refuse to allocate money to rehab and drug courts since Those People would only waste is.

  65. 65
    Sherparick says:

    I went on Wikipedia because I had a hunch and wanted to see if that confirmed it. According to Wikipedia, this drug has been around since the 1960s. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naloxone

    I am all for this change, but can’t help but point out the privilege I have as white male in America, that as soon as folks like me start OD’ing on heroin, society sees the need to provide antidotes on a widespread basis. But not so much when Blacks and Browns were the seen as the likely OD candidates, not so much. This systematic, culture, of race and privilege in the American Experience is what Mr. Coates and so many others before him have written about since Frederick Douglas.

    This is also apparently very much a middle class and upper middle class problem in the Northeast (for anecdote of the type, see Jared Remy).

  66. 66
    Rex Everything says:

    William S Burroughs is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

  67. 67
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mandalay: Hmmm…Could be.

  68. 68
    Keith G says:

    @cat:

    Now that they realize its a white people problem. Which I’m sure I’m the 58th person in this thread to state

    As Mnemosyne has pointed out, this problem has not been focused on as solely a Black issue. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, I saw the media present heroin as an equal opportunity urban problem. As often as not, its victims were white artistic type urban folk. Think of the East Village, NYC or the Haight district of San Francisco.

    Even though it seems as if some folks might feel better if the narrative were different, it isn’t.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Keith G:

    Close: it’s branded as a “black issue” when politicians and pundits are looking for convenient ways to ignore it, or for ways to attack “welfare queens” as drug addicts, but the statistics show that most drug addicts are white, and that black people are no more likely to be drug users than white people.

    Research shows that most drug users are white, but most of the people arrested for drug use are black.

  70. 70
    MikeJake says:

    A friend of my mother lost her brother to heroin just a couple days ago. He OD’d, and whatever upstanding people he was using with dumped him behind a gas station. Another of my mother’s friends lost her son a couple years ago to heroin. He OD’d in some cheap motel room and was left behind.

    Heroin is a really stupid drug.

  71. 71
    Silencio says:

    @Mnemosyne: Bingo!

    Even if it would make some folks feel better to deny that reality, so as to maintain a color-blind self-deception.

  72. 72
    low-tech cyclist says:

    “I hear every mother say”

    Can’t believe it took this long for the thread title to click in my brain.

Comments are closed.