The Shift from Prescription Opiates to Heroin

Prescription opiate addiction and heroin addiction have been on the rise for the past decade. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimating that more than two million Americans have substance abuse disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. The prescription pill addiction can lead to overdoses, deaths, risky behaviors like motor vehicle accidents, and spread to an addiction to heroin. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), four out of five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.

The Beginnings of Addiction

Often people receive opiate (and other) prescribed drugs for injuries from medical professionals, to ease the individual’s back pain, osteoarthritis, or another type of persistent pain. Examples of common opiates, naturally defined painkillers from the opium poppy, are codeine and morphine. But, while the drug helps with the pain, it is addictive, and, as the shown below, it can also set this person on a path to heroin addiction.

The Typical Shift to Heroin

Often an individual who is legally prescribed painkillers for an injury becomes addicted to these pills. They move to buying the pills on the street illegally or getting them from their friends as they can no longer justify the medication to their doctor. The demand for prescription opiates by illegal methods has increased over the years, driving up its price and causing a shortage of these types of pills.

Now, for many Americans, the prescription painkillers are too expensive and difficult to get, so they are switching to heroin as it is a cheaper way to get a similar high. For those people who try to get off of the opiates on their own, without outside help of rehabilitation centers, they face painful withdrawal and offset withdrawal symptoms by taking heroin.

But heroin use can be deadly. The rate of heroin overdose deaths almost quadrupled from 2000 to 2013, as per American Society for Addiction Medicine.

Seeking Help

A prescription opiate addiction and/or heroin addiction is serious. Lives are lost due to drug addictions every day. For you or your loved one, seeking help from a quality rehabilitation center can be a great first step toward achieving and maintaining a clean lifestyle. What individuals learn about themselves and their addiction from rehab facilities can effectively reduce risks of relapse.