Lifetime Non-Medical Use of Painkillers in Fairfax County Students (8th-12th Grade)
Overall Past Month Use of Heroin in Fairfax County Students (8th-12th Grade)
Heroin, diacetylmorphine or morphine diacetate, is a highly additive drug. It is an opioid derived from morphine obtained from opium poppy plants. Although an inactive drug, when inserted into the body, it converts to morphine. It is considered a depressant, or “downer” as it affects the pleasure systems of the brain and decreases one’s ability to perceive pain.
Overall Past Month Use of Heroin in US Students (8th-12th Grade)
*From the Fairfax County Youth Survey 2013-2014. See below for further details
Mainlining Smoking Snorting/Sniffing
All three ways that heroin is administered delivers the drug to the brain very rapidly, which contributes to its health risks and high risk of addiction.
The short-term effects of heroin abuse causes a “rush,” a feeling of euphoria, followed by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth and heaviness of the extremities. After the initial rush, the user goes “on the nod” (becomes drowsy) and mental functions become clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Vomiting and constipation can also occur.
Heroin abused repeatedly can cause collapsed veins, infection to the heart lining and valves, liver or kidney disease, and pulmonary complications including pneumonia, blood clots, hepatitis and HIV (through sharing needles), constipation, cramping, and even death.
Because of the highly additive nature of the drug, withdrawal symptoms in regular abusers, can occur within a few hours causing drug cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting.
The two most commonly abused pain medications are Oxycontin and Vicodin. Abuse of these drugs, when taken in ways other than prescribed, can have effects similar to heroin and be a first step toward heroin use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half of young people who inject heroin reported abusing prescription opioids before starting use of heroin. Many individuals reported that heroin was cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids.
In the fall of 2014, both the governor of Virginia and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed task forces to study the related problems of prescription drug and heroin abuse.
Staff and members of the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County (UPC) are involved in the countywide task force to examine the problem and come up with a strategic plan. In December 2014 the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Human Services Committee received a report on prescription drug and heroin abuse in Fairfax County from Police Captain Paul Cleveland and Prevention Manager Jesse Ellis (Neighborhood and Community Services).
The “Prescription drug and heroin abuse in Fairfax County” report reviewed recent trends and discussed the county's strategy for ongoing prevention efforts. The report also includes national, state and local data on prescription drug and heroin abuse, with findings that "clearly support the government’s declaration of a prescription drug and heroin epidemic." To see the report, click here.
A Fairfax County Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse Prevention Strategic Action Plan is being developed within a framework of five strategic areas:
As the county’s plan evolves, coordination with federal initiatives and the work of the Virginia Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse will be necessary to avoid duplication and ensure complementary approaches; the five focus areas listed above replicate those of the Task Force.
2013-2014 Fairfax County Youth Survey Data:
*Fairfax County data and tables are from The Fairfax County Youth Survey Report School year 2013-2014 at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/youthsurvey.
# National data are from the 2013 Monitoring the Future survey (Johnston, O’Malley, Miech, Bahman & Schulenberg, 2014). The national data are not available by gender or race/ethnicity.
**The Fairfax County Youth Survey Report School Year 2013-2014, Executive Summary page 2
Table 77. Past Month Prevalence of Heroin Use, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County, 2010-2013 (Values are percentages)
Table 77. Past Month Prevalence of Heroin Use, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County and U.S., 2010-2013 (Values are percentages)
Table 39. Lifetime Prevalence of Non-medical Use of Painkillers, by Selected Demographic Characteristics, Fairfax County, 2011 and 2013 (Values are percentages)
Because prescription medicine abuse is a national epidemic and a growing problem among Fairfax County youth, UPC has mobilized with collaborative partners to decrease youth access to opioid medications through a range of education actions and a focus on disposal activities. This concern has grown with the realization that our older teens in high school may be moving from opioid medicines to heroin use, similar to other parts of the country.
Return to Top
Keep our youth and young adults safe and drug free...
2970-B Chain Bridge Road
Oakton, Virginia 22124
©2008-2015 Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County | Disclaimer Statement | Web Design by AdobeMuse
The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County (UPC) and this website are partially funded by a Virginia Strategic Prevention Framework - State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG) and a federal SAMHSA Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking grant (STOP). UPC is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with more than 60 partners and members from the community