Does Painkiller Abuse Lead to Heroin Addiction?

5. February 2016

Painkillers and prescription pills have become a severe issue throughout the world, especially in the United States. According to results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs non-medically for the first time within the past year, which averages to approximately 6,600 initiates per day. More than one-half were females and about a third were aged 12 to 17.” America’s youth have fallen victim to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, pills are being made and distributed at alarming rates.

Prescription drug abuse is highest among people aged 18-25, with 5.9 percent reporting nonmedical use in the past month (NSDUH, 2010). Youth aged 12 to 17, 3.0 percent reported nonmedical use of prescription medications over the past month.“Youth who abuse prescription medications are also more likely to report use of other drugs. Multiple studies have revealed associations between prescription drug abuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking; heavy episodic drinking; and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among adolescents, young adults, and college students in the United States.”

The Evolution of Addiction

As stated above, people who use prescription pills will often use other drugs. With extended use of painkillers users will develop a physical dependence. When they do not use painkillers (opiates) they will go through physical withdrawals. These withdrawals are very painful, think of the worst flu you’ve ever had and multiply that pain by 100. Cold sweats, muscles aches, nausea, diarrhea, the inability to sleep and restless legs are all part of the withdrawal. Withdrawals can begin as soon as 5 hours after a past use. The more someone uses the higher their tolerance will be, leading to more intense physical pain.
Many addicts will turn from prescription pills to heroin as their addiction progresses. Painkillers are usually more expensive than heroin, heroin is also much more potent. When a user starts to use heroin instead of painkillers they will not need to use as much to get the same effect. Someone who was using $100 worth of painkillers may only need to use $30 worth of heroin to achieve the same high. This is the appeal that leads many addicts to change their drug of choice.

The Dangerous Difference

This change is a very dangerous one. The pharmaceutical industry, as evil and corrupt as they are, regulate what goes into their pills. Every pill contains the same amount of ingredients, so the user will often know what their tolerance is and the chances of an accidental overdose are less. Heroin obviously has no regulations or standards to meet.
Heroin is most commonly imported illegally from Afghanistan and Mexico, it is smuggled into the US and distributed to drug dealers. These dealers will often cut or mix the heroin with various other drugs to increase its potency. Drugs like Fentanyl are very commonly mixed in, when this happens the chances of an accidental overdose sky-rocket. One day the addict can use .5 grams of heroin and achieve their desired high. The next day they may use .5 grams of a different batch and die from an overdose. The loss of life in this country due to painkillers and  heroin is extreme. A change needs to happen to get the painkillers off the streets and out of the hands of our citizens.Most people who are addicted to painkillers will eventually use heroin, they may start shooting up (IV use) when they used to swallow the pills. Talk to your loved ones if you are concerned, there is no reason for these overdose rates to rise anymore.

Are You or a Loved One Struggling?

If you think a loved one is struggling with prescription pills of heroin then do something about it today. Addiction is an epidemic in our country, innocent lives are lost every day. Contact Intervention Services now at 1-877-478-4621 to start the process of getting help for you, your family and your loved one. You don’t need to wait for things to get worse. An intervention can stop the pain and chaos and help bring peace of mind to you and your family.