Rockland County Drug Epidemic

By Jumana Khatib
February 28, 2017

There are many distinct benefits of living in Rockland County, from living only thirty minutes from the city, to the school systems that are always pushing students to their highest potential. Aside from the great education and thriving athletic programs that put these tiny, yet diverse towns on the map compared to national teams across the country, Rockland has an atmosphere that brings people together, though sometimes, not for the best. It is extremely common, especially for suburban kids, to dabble in their curiosity and try new things, but unfortunately, drugs are becoming the new trend that is ending too many young lives. Addiction is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in life and one drug that is resurfacing with a ferocity is the notoriously addictive and affordable drug heroin.

According to Lohud Journal news, there have been nine deaths due to opioid-related overdoses in 2016 in Rockland County. Naloxone, commercially known as Narcan, has been used 15 times by paramedics and law enforcement to reverse the effects of opioids. In contrast to the first six months of 2015, there were 17 opioid-related deaths and Narcan was administered 20 times, Lohud reports. Numbers rose to 35 fatal overdoses and 36 Narcan uses during the entirety of 2015. Statewide, between the years 2010 and 2014, the number of opioid-related deaths rose to 47 percent. A total of 5,860 deaths occurred in New York during that five-year stretch, compared to 2,931 deaths from 2003 to 2007.

The American Psychological Association states that marijuana, commonly referred to as the “gateway drug,” is the “most widely used illicit drug in the United States.” For more persistent users, marijuana use is linked to a decline in IQ. A number of studies have found evidence of brain changes in teens and young adults who smoke cannabis. Smokers of this controversial plant have had changes in the shape, volume, and gray matter density of the two brain regions associated with addiction: the nucleus accumbens (which plays a role in motivation, pleasure and reward processing) and the amygdala (a region involved in memory, emotion and decision-making). They are altered compared to non-smokers. Marijuana use is also linked to anxiety and depression, and since many start smoking marijuana during their adolescent years, brain development is slowed or halted, possibly affecting their ability to make safe and healthy decisions.

People from all socioeconomic levels are affected by drugs; whether it’s a family member, friend, or neighbor suffering from addiction, it is hard to escape the harsh reality of drug use. People from all races, religions, and incomes can be effected. The biggest factor when it comes to whether or not one will tap into drugs is not just the home situation, but society and friends. “You are who your friends are.” Peer pressure and the constant push to fit in with the crowd and feel a great high effects many people, especially from ages 18-24. The only solution is to inform and spread awareness of the true effects of drugs like opioids.

Rockland is just one suburban county out of thousands in the United States that is dealing with this epidemic head on. There are many rehabilitation centers and groups that meet throughout the county to deal with addiction of any kind. Orangetown Treatment Centers provide both outpatient rehab, which allows the patient to live at their usual domestic address while they receive treatment, and inpatient care, which is when patients occupy a room on the property. Inpatient is a much more extensive treatment that prevents any outside sources that may affect the process of recovery, while a staff is there every step of the way.