22 Mar Do Prescription Drugs Lead To Heroin Use?
Research shows that prescription addicts are increasingly turning to illegal street drugs like heroin. Here are the main reasons this happens:
- Heroin was once a prescription drug
Heroin used to be a prescription drug you could get from the doctor. It was usually called diamorphine when used in prescriptions. Now, although heroin is illegal, synthetic opioids are still prescribed to treat heroin addiction. Doctors routinely provide heroin addicts in recovery with methadone, a synthetic opioid that is very similar to heroin. The idea is to safely wean off of opiates until the methadone is no longer needed.
- Heroin as a replacement for prescription pain medicine
Prescription painkillers like hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Percocet) are derived from opium and therefore are technically opioid drugs, just like heroin. Heroin and prescription painkillers have a similar high, so heroin is a popular option pain medicine addicts turn to as a substitute for pills.
- The price of heroin
Prescription painkillers are very expensive, especially for an addict needing increasingly larger quantities to achieve the same results. As tolerance for the substance increases, so does the need for the substance. Pain pills can cost as much as $60 to $100 per tablet, and an addict may need several pills a day to function and avoid withdrawals. Heroin is a significantly cheaper replacement for painkillers. An amount of heroin equivalent to one pain pill costs around $10.
- The accessibility of heroin
Because prescription painkiller abuse has become so rampant, legislation is cracking down on doctors and pharmaceutical companies and their ability to provide the medication. One example of this is laws that force doctors to keep track of the number of pain pill prescriptions they write. With prescription drugs become more inaccessible, heroin becomes an attractive option as it can be found on the street or through connections. This on top of the significantly lower price makes heroin a strong alternative to those with pain medicine addiction.
- Ease of use
Although pain pill addicts may start by swallowing pills, usually once they are entrenched in addiction they have to resort to snorting or injecting them to achieve a greater high. They do this by crushing up the pills to snort them, or dissolving them in liquid to inject. To increase the difficulty of painkiller abuse, many pharmaceutical companies now formulate pills in a way that make them harder to crush. OxyContin, for example, can no longer be ground into a fine powder, and instead breaks into pieces that would be difficult to snort or dissolve. Heroin often comes in a form that is ready to be used as soon as it is delivered. It can be a fine white powder or a black sticky goo. Either form is ready to be smoked, dissolved, injected, or snorted right away. Heroin has become not only a cheaper and more accessible option for many but more convenient to use, as well.