As heroin addiction and overdose continue to rise, many debate if it stems from the dependency on prescription painkillers versus addicts seeking cheaper drugs…

According to the Center for Disease Control, people addicted to prescription drugs are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin. 86 percent of 250,000 polled in a 2014 study reported using opioid pain relievers non-medically before using heroin for the first time.

Heroin, like prescription painkillers, is an opiate and provides many of the same effects. Heroin was actually prescribed back in the 1920’s but was removed from the market relatively quickly. Heroin offers a form of escape, a high that allows the user to “zone out” and feel calm, much like anti-anxiety medications. Heroin is a lot cheaper than any prescription drug and, because it is illegal, it is in some ways more accessible than prescription medications. Prescription drugs are now being prescribed less due to changes in legislature and drug tracking systems at pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Many patients begin to buy heroin because it’s less hassle than trying to come up with new stories for why they need an early refill or find another doctor to duplicate their prescription. Plus, even with health insurance, heroin is often far less expensive than prescription drugs.

While prescription drugs remain legal, the ability to acquire valid scripts becomes increasingly difficult as drug monitoring programs increase and education among physicians about addiction increases. Thus, people are turning more and more to buying street drugs which is illegal. They convince themselves that they are invincible and won’t get caught. Those who use heroin rarely turn back to prescription drugs as the high is instantaneous and cannot compare to prescription drugs.

Thus, while there is a strong correlation between the abuse of prescription drugs and heroin addiction, heroin is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem. Heroin is now being cut with other drugs such as fentanyl, carfentanyl, and thai fentanyl, increasing not only the high people receive, but also their chances of immediate death.

Ongoing education, change in legislation and drug addiction treatment need to continue to increase to meet the needs of the addicted community and their families. To learn more about heroin addiction and addiction treatment, please contact Victory Detox Center at (800) 906-1629.

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