Addiction epidemic in US creates opium boom in Mexico

HOUSTON — Heroin addiction is running rampant across the United States.

The demand for smack is so high, Mexican drug cartels are turning more to heroin instead of coke and pot. In fact, Mexican opium production saw a growth of 50 percent in 2014 alone, according to the New York Times.

“We've seen, actually, the heroin addiction in our program on the rise,” Cenikor Facility Director Eugene Hall said. Cenikor helps addicts rehabilitate in both inpatient and outpatient facilities.

If you have money, you can find it, that's all that matters. It's cheaper to buy heroin, than it is to buy painkillers,” a client at Cenikor said.

The client's name has been omitted for privacy.

For the first time, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report on addiction in America, and the message is dire. More than 20 million people in America have a substance abuse problem. Seventy-eight Americans die every day from opioids alone.

“The stigma is that, you see people on the corner, or you see people that are downtrodden, but you never see the teacher, you never see the lawyer, you never see the doctor,” Hall said.

And when the stigma that comes with addiction doesn't stop addicts from seeking recovery, often the ability to pay for it does. Only one in 10 in need of substance abuse treatment received it.

“I actually admitted to myself, 'wow you're a full blown addict,'" the client said. "If i can just get through three or four days of this withdrawl, then I'll be alright and I won't use anymore. But as soon as the next available time that I could pick up drugs was, I went and got it,” Sean said, remembering his attempts to sober up prior to seeking treatment.

The report is a call to action to treat addiction as a chronic neurological disease and not just a lack of willpower.

“If people could just look at us as people who have a problem, just like any other problem in life then maybe there'd be more people willing to help us, instead of just look at us like second class citizens,” the client said.

And estimated $420 billion is spent on abuse-related health care, criminal justice and lost productivity. This is a lot more than just a disease individuals suffer from - all of society suffers from addiction.