Prescription Drug Use Feeding Heroin Addictions

Prescription Drug Use Feeding Heroin Addictions

Prescription Drug Use Feeding Heroin Addictions

Prescription Drug Use Feeding Heroin AddictionsThe nation has been making headway in the fight against prescription drug abuse to the point that young people that once raided a family medicine cabinet for prescription drugs are now turn to the streets for heroin.

Kids and young adults hooked on Vicodin or OxyContin are migrating to the less expensive heroin because it provides a similar high for a fraction of the cost. One addiction specialist says that greater than 95 percent of the people he treats for heroin addiction started by taking prescription pain pills.

The reasons for the switch appear to be cost and availability. The attention paid to prescription drug abuse has been effective in closing many avenues of supply. Pain management clinics called “pill mills” which were de facto drug suppliers have been shut down. Caregivers and state authorities are using more comprehensive drug monitoring programs to track who prescribes and who takes medications. Awareness campaigns have led to families cleaning out family medicine cabinets of unused drugs.

The result has been a reduced supply and a much higher cost for the drugs that are available, with some painkiller habits costing as much as $200 per day. Since that price tag is beyond the reach of most high school and college-age young people, heroin has seen a resurgence of popularity as it’s relatively easy to obtain and costs about one-fifth the price of prescriptions.

Officials became aware of the exodus from prescription drugs to heroin because of several factors, including a rise in heroin overdose fatalities and heroin drug busts and seizures. In Arizona, for example, the number of heroin overdose deaths have more than doubled in less than five years. A good deal of the heroin is coming across the border from Mexico but some of it is coming from as far away as Afghanistan.

The other evidence that kids are turning to heroin over prescription drugs are the steadily rising number of young people entering treatment facilities for help with a heroin addiction. Like fighting the seven-headed hydra, we can rejoice that progress is being made against the scourge of prescription drug abuse, while recognizing that another problem is sprouting up to take its place.

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