Prescription Drug Abuse Escalating to Heroin Addiction
Within our society, we are witnessing a disturbing pattern of substance abuse. Those who start off using prescription drugs will often evolve to a Heroin addiction. With large numbers of individuals abusing prescription drugs, many may wonder as to what happens when one can no longer take these medications, whether they run out of pills or they cannot purchase any more. While it would be hopeful to think that these individuals just stop using all together and move on with their lives, unfortunately this is rarely the case. Instead, we are witnessing a transition in individuals who progress from using prescription medications to taking Heroin, which inevitably creates a Heroin addict in need of rehabilitation.
Prescription Drugs, a Gateway to Heroin Addiction
Drug users rarely begin their life of drugs with Heroin as their first substance. Oftentimes, there is often a progression throughout addictions, as they move from one substance on to a more potent one. Many drugs that do not have as potent of an effect as others, but are often used by larger populations are generally known as “Gateway drugs,” as they generally act as a predecessor for more serious drug addictions. Most drugs thought to be considered gateway are; Alcohol, Cigarettes, Marijuana, and Painkillers with addictive qualities.
Evolving to Heroin Addiction
Since prescription medications can be considered a stepping stone to more harmful drugs, many users will often escalate their use to heroin abuse for a number of reasons. Many people may seek a more potent substance because they developing a tolerance to the effects of their previous drug. For example, individuals who got a euphoric sensation from one painkiller, might need two just to get a relatively close level of euphoria. People may also turn to Heroin for reasons of financial sensibility. Since drug dealers can produce levels of Heroin for a far less cost than drugs like Oxycontin, people may escalate use for that reason. Also, there may be an element of access at play in many cases as well. If an individual used to take painkillers from a prescription (or buying from someone who has a prescription), but are no longer able to, Heroin would seem to be the next choice.
In a teleconference featured in “Prescription Drug Abusers Turn To Heroin,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gave his analysis of this trend in drugs: “We are priming people to an addiction to Heroin with overuse of prescription Opiates, which are, after all, essentially the same chemical with the same impact on the brain.”
Thoughts for The Future
According to Dr. Frieden, he places a particular measure of blame on the healthcare system for overprescribing Opiate pain medications to individuals that would later be at risk of escalating into a Heroin addiction. While the FDA is currently in the process of tightening restriction on the distribution of these medications, this only solves one aspect of the problem. As these drugs become scarcer, we may eventually see a sharp rise in Heroin use. With the understanding of this potential consequence, people should be well informed about the dangers of Heroin use, as well as the availability of assistance for Detoxing from painkiller drugs. With these measures in place, we may very well see effective action taken to curb the epidemic of both prescription and Heroin abuse and addiction.