Painkiller and Heroin Addiction Threat
Addiction is sometimes described as a growing loss of self-control regarding the abuse of substances. Abusing prescription pain medicines can result in opioid drug addiction and lead to heroin use, a more common problem than many people realize. With rising numbers of heroin users across the United State, drug addiction is a very serious threat to public health and safety.
Consider a few facts:
- The number of past year heroin users increased between 2007 (373,000) and 2012 (669,000).
- In 2011-2012, of people who used pain relievers non-medically in the previous 12 months, 64.9 percent got the drug from a friend or relative, 19.7 percent reported that they got the drug through a prescription from one doctor and only 4.3 percent got pain relievers from a drug dealer or stranger.
- Pain killer abusers still outstrip heroin users in numbers.
- The rate of drug abuse of painkillers increased from 1.4 million in 2004 to 2.1 million in 2012.
- The addiction rate in response to long-term opiate or opioid use, heroin or pills, is probably 20 to 30 percent of users.
- Heroin addicts often relapse after their first stint in rehab.
These are alarming numbers! Many states are already creating drug databases to track prescriptions drugs, but so much more needs to be done to educate the public about the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse.
How does painkiller abuse lead to heroin abuse? The process is straightforward. Although many people are able to get painkillers from their doctors, after a time either the doctor will no longer prescribe or insurance will no longer pay for the pills. The cost of the pills, without insurance, can be tremendous. People buy them on the street or get them from friends and family for as long as they can, but eventually, those wells dry up too. Heroin, from the same drug family as prescription painkillers, is readily available and much cheaper to get. Users have little choice but to switch, and most are horrified to find themselves “junkies.”
But there is hope. Addiction treatment for painkillers and heroin has advanced tremendously. People recover every day. You don’t need to be a statistic. Find a good, evidence-based treatment facility and ask for help. Today can be the day you change the rest of your life.