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Changes in Heroin Addiction

The United States has been facing the problem of drug and substance abuse for decades. Heroin is among the most prominent drugs, and its use has been steadily rising since 2007, especially among young people aged between nineteen and twenty-five years. The number of US citizens using heroin for the first time was the highest in 2016, with 170,000 new users. However, despite the increase in the number of people using these drugs, some things have remained the same among heroin addicts. This paper looks into the issue of heroin addiction as depicted in a short music video about the 1971 film “Panic in Needle Park.” The paper also looks into a report on drug addiction and discusses the surprising fact that more deaths happen among older addicts than young users.

Over the last fifty years, people physically addicted to heroin still use the drug with their closest companions. In the music video, the couple gets addicted after the woman is introduced into the habit by her lover (Corleone, 2010). This is still the case today, and most people start using the drug because their friend is using it. The circle of friends of heroin is mostly addicted to the drug. The physical heroin addicts are also hooked to the ritual surrounding the needle. The video portrays a young couple whose lives are anchored in the culture of injecting themselves, regardless of where they are. It is the first thing in the morning. They ignore their duties, such as taking care of the child due to the needle.

The film also proves that addiction has a direct relationship with crime. Physical heroin addicts today engage in theft to fund their habits. These people cannot secure and keep good jobs due to their behavior. They spend short periods in jail because their crimes are mostly petty, and this is not enough time for them to recover from the addiction. In instances where romantic relationships are concerned, the couple sees the criminal activities as a source of emotional connection, and they do not make any efforts to change their behavior. Overdose cases are still high today, leading to serious health complications and sometimes death.

According to a report by the New York Department of Health, New York residents aged between 55 and 64 had the highest deaths resulting from an overdose, which is an increase from 35.3 to 38.9 per 100000. On the other hand, New York residents aged between 15 and 24 had lower deaths at 5.3 per 100000, which is a decrease from 6.6 (“NYC Health,” 2020). This is surprising because the youth are considered to be at higher risk of drug and substance abuse and consequently are expected to register more deaths than older citizens. The young New Yorkers are likely to engage in careless drug use culture due to peer pressure. The youth are also at higher risk of trying new things, such as taking more than the expected amount. However, it shows that other factors in the opioids epidemic make older users more vulnerable to a drug overdose.

Therefore, this paper has shown that certain things have not changed regarding the use and addiction of heroin. Most people are introduced to the habit by their closest friends, are forced to commit petty crimes to fund their habit, and do not know that they are addicted until it is too late. It is important to note that there are more overdose deaths among older users than young ones despite a smaller number of older people using the drugs. The factors need to be investigated and the right corrective measures put in place to deal with the problem.


Corleone, A. (2010, December 24). The Panic in Needle Park- Heroin. YouTube.

NYC Health. (2020). Unintentional Drug Poisoning (Overdose) Deaths in New York City in 2019. Epi Data Brief122, 1-10.

Zaami, S., Marinelli, E., & Varì, M. R. (2020). New trends of substance abuse during COVID-19 pandemic: an international perspective. Frontiers in Psychiatry11, 700.


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