Prescription drugs can be a welcome and necessary part of a treatment management plan for many patients being treated for a variety of medical conditions. However, prescription medications, specifically those used to treat pain, can be addictive when they are not used as directed or are used for longer than the short-term. The issue of prescription drug addiction is a serious one, especially when it comes to opioid abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there hasn’t been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans are reporting to their healthcare providers over the past 15 years. However, the amount of prescription medications dispensed during that time has quadrupled.
More Prescriptions For Opioids Leads To Unintentional Overdoses
Opioids are powerful pain medications used to treat moderate to severe pain. Traditionally, they have been prescribed to treat patients recovering from surgery, cancer patients or who have sustained severe injuries. Now they are being prescribed for complaints such as a strained back and rheumatoid arthritis. With this upsurge in prescribing opioids, the amount of overdoses, including deaths, has unfortunately also greatly increased, according to the CDC.
Why Heroin Is Related To Opioid Abuse
A person who may never have thought of themselves as being at risk for drug abuse can start on a prescription opioid, thinking that it is “safe” because it has been prescribed by a doctor. However, many individuals who use opioids quickly build up a tolerance then start to become dependent on the drug. When obtaining prescription painkillers becomes too expensive or too difficult, individuals often turn to using heroin.
In fact, according to DrugAbuse.gov, researchers have found that close to half of young people who inject heroin started abusing prescription medications before turning to this street drug.
Heroin, which is an opioid, may be sought by those who are already abusing opioids since it produces a sense of euphoria, or “high” in users, along with pain relief. This is similar to the effects of prescription opioid painkillers.
Effective Treatment Is Available For Prescription Drug Addiction
Before a prescription drug abuse problem develops into an addiction and possibly a heroin addiction, seek out professional treatment. Our opiate rehab center in Maryland offers a three-phase approach to offering help to clients over a 90-day period. We provide residential treatment so that clients can focus their entire attention on breaking free from chemical dependence and getting well. Contact us today to learn more about our program.
Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.