In a national survey, the number of people who admitted to using heroin in the past year nearly doubled between 2005 and 2012, from 380,000 to 670,000, according to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Pain Med Addiction Prelude to Heroin Addiction
“Heroin provides a similar high as prescription opioid,” said Nathaniel Rickles, an associate professor of Pharmacy Practice and Administration at the Northeastern University School of Pharmacy. “They are central nervous system depressants, deadening what you are feeling, so you are in a drugged-out state. You don’t worry about anything, so things feel a lot better to you.”
Many people become addicted to Heroin by way of prescription pain medication. Because states are cracking down on prescription pain med distribution, it is becoming more difficult for those addicted to medications like Oxycontin, Vicodin, etc., to obtain their drug of choice.
Pain pill addicts quickly progress to heroin simply because the pills are becoming so difficult to acquire. Heroin is ten times cheaper and addicts say they get twice as high plus the high lasts longer.
States Are Monitoring Pain Medication Abusers
States are adding challenges for people who are illegally trying to obtain prescription pain medication. Many states have monitoring systems now that track where and how often prescriptions are filled. If the addict is going to different pharmacies and trying to not be noticed, states flag the individual as a potential abuser and add them to a state monitoring program.
Now that states are getting more involved and checking on this life threatening addiction, it is putting more pressure on the ability to access these medications. The increase in heroin abuse could be related to the difficulties that now exist in obtaining prescription pain pills.
Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows the heroin use rate was 19 times higher among those who reported prior use of non-medical pain reliever use than those who did not. The study has been conducted annually from 2002 through 2011.
Making Pills More Difficult to Abuse
Manufacturers are making pain pills more difficult to abuse in an attempt to lower addiction. In some cases they are making the pills so hard that they can not be chopped up and made into a powder. Many abusers chop up the pills and snort or smoke the powder which diminishes the pills timed released safety attribute. This way of ingesting pain medication is the most deadly.
Florida Initiates crackdown on Pain pill mills
A statewide crackdown on pain pill mills has led to task forces and regulations aimed at stopping counterfeit prescriptions. It prohibits doctors from dispensing controlled substances including Oxycontin and hydrocodone, except in limited circumstances.
Proponents of the pill mill bill said seven Floridians die each day from prescription drug abuse. They also said Florida is responsible for nearly one-third of America’s prescriptions.
Tomorrow senate Hearing to be Held
Washington—Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Co-Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced a hearing on heroin and prescription drug abuse on Wednesday, May 14, at 2:30 p.m.
The hearing will explore prescription drug abuse and the role it plays in the increased use of heroin in the United States, as well as how the federal government can help reduce opioid abuse.
Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a nonprofit drug rehabilitation organization.
Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing, America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
2:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 192
A live stream of the hearing will be available online at www.drugcaucus.senate.gov.