Methadone has been used to treat people with extreme pain for decades and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid addiction. According to SAMHSA, methadone can help people with opioid use disorder reduce their cravings and withdrawal symptoms, stay in treatment longer than those who are not taking it, and lower their chances of using illegal opioids.
However, some are still skeptical of its effectiveness in treating opioid addiction, citing the potential for misuse and abuse. They think that methadone can quickly become a replacement addiction and that it can still be used to get high. But proponents, who include top addiction professionals, argue broader use of methadone could help address the current opiate overdose epidemic in the US. They advocate for easier access to methadone treatment for opioid addiction, citing its potential benefits in helping people manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
This article will explore both sides of the argument and discuss the risks and benefits of using methadone as an addiction treatment.
Methadone is a powerful drug used for pain relief and opioid use disorders. It is a synthetic opioid, but unlike other opioids, it has been approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction. It is one of the three medications approved in the US for opioid addiction treatment.
The drug works by binding to and blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, thus reducing cravings and preventing withdrawal symptoms. It is typically administered once a day at room temperature, though some people require more frequent doses. Methadone is available in liquid, powder, and tablet forms.
Methadone is extraordinarily effective if the standards of any epidemic are considered. A study found that those receiving the drug were 59% less likely to die of an overdose than those who did not receive it.
Methadone is used as part of a treatment program for opioid use disorder. Those receiving the drug to treat opioid addiction must receive it under the care of a qualified healthcare provider.
This provider prescribes the medication and supervises its use. After a period of stability, some people may be able to take the medication home and administer it themselves. However, this is an option only after they've gone through frequent tests and counseling sessions.
The duration of methadone treatment varies depending on the individual and the severity of their addiction. But the National Institute on Health recommends a minimum of 12 months. Some patients may need long-term maintenance. But those who are getting off the drug should work with their healthcare provider to gradually taper off the medication to avoid any life-threatening methadone withdrawal symptoms.
Methadone has long been controversial in the addiction treatment world. While advocates are proposing a significant expansion in access to the drug, the providers of methadone for addiction treatment are warning that caution should be used when prescribing the medication.
The primary concern for those who oppose expanded access to methadone is its potential for misuse and abuse. While methadone is effective for treating opioid addiction, allowing doctors to prescribe it to anyone could lead to low-quality care, abuse, and overdose on methadone itself.
At the moment, patients need to visit a methadone clinic each day for a single dose. They also need to be a part of an opioid treatment program and go through frequent drug tests, take part in counseling sessions, and prove that they've had opioid addiction for over a year.
Opponents of expansion strongly believe it's essential that methadone treatment is accompanied by counseling and other services that opioid-trained professionals are qualified to offer. They also point to worrying statistics about methadone-related overdose. A recent estimate by NIDA found that methadone is involved in 3% of opioid-related overdoses.
On the other hand, advocates argue that methadone can be prescribed responsibly, with adequate monitoring and oversight. They point out that the benefits of broader access to methadone outweigh the potential risks. And that the risk of overdose is too high and that methadone can help treat addiction, reduce cravings and prevent long-term health problems caused by opioid addiction. According to the proponents, the opioid crisis has reached a level where any measure taken to reduce the number of overdoses is worth exploring.
Those in favor of expansion don't see why increasing access should be a problem considering any healthcare provider can prescribe methadone for chronic pain treatment. They argue that strict regulation is only imposed on addiction treatment, which makes little sense and is a sign of the discrimination and stigma faced by OUD patients. Currently, no other drug is as restricted for approved use (opioid addiction), yet it has few restrictions when prescribed for pain management.
It is worth noting there have been fewer methadone-related deaths even after significant restrictions were lifted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The lift allowed "stable" patients to bring home their weeks' worth of methadone doses instead of going to a clinic every day for an amount.
Methadone is a safe and effective treatment when taken as prescribed. Patients should work closely with their healthcare provider to find the correct dose and frequency of administration that works for them. Patients should also take precautions when taking methadone, such as:
Some common side effects of methadone include:
Methadone is generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. However, it will likely cause harmful side effects to a developing fetus and should only be used when the benefits outweigh the risks. Breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking methadone, as it can be passed to the infant through breast milk.
For people with opioid addiction, many facilities offer comprehensive drug addiction treatment programs. These treatment plans include counseling, support groups, medical monitoring, and other therapies designed to help patients gain control of their addiction and begin the journey toward recovery.
Drug abuse and addiction can affect almost every part of your body, including your veins. The chemicals in these drugs can cause the walls of your veins to break down, making them more susceptible to rupture.
In addition, the debris from these breakdowns can block blood flow and cause inflammation. As a result, your veins can become very painful and may even require surgery to repair. In some cases, you may need compression stockings to manage the side effects.
Drugs can have a big impact on your circulatory system. This includes your heart, arteries, veins, and blood. Drugs can affect your heart health in several ways, including:
These effects can strain your heart and lead to different types of heart disease. Drugs can also damage the lining of your arteries, making them more likely to become blocked. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In addition, drugs can thin your blood, making it more difficult for your circulatory system to do its job.
When you think of cocaine, you might picture the white powder snorted through a rolled-up bill. But what you might not realize is that this illegal drug is extremely dangerous and can cause severe damage to your veins and circulatory system. Here's how:
Cocaine use increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by damaging the veins and causing them to constrict. This can lead to a build-up of blood in the veins, which increases the likelihood of a clot forming.
In addition, cocaine use leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, further damaging the vessels and leading to DVT.
DVT is a type of heart disease that can occur when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. DVT can also cause post-thrombotic syndrome.
Cocaine can also cause dehydration and damage organs such as the liver and lungs. In fact, chronic cocaine use has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
MDMA is a popular party drug, especially among young people. Also known as ecstasy, the drug produces feelings of euphoria and increased energy. However, MDMA can also have serious consequences for your circulatory system. The active ingredient in ecstasy, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), interferes with the body's ability to regulate blood flow.
As a result, blood vessels constrict, and blood pressure rises. MDMA also speeds up heart rate and can cause irregular heart rhythm. In some cases, these effects can lead to overheating, dehydration, and even death.
Heroin is a powerful opioid drug that can have devastating effects on the circulatory system. When heroin enters the bloodstream, it binds to receptors in the brain that are responsible for pain relief, heart rate, and respiration. This binding process slows down the body's natural processes. This happens more faster when the drug is injected via needle or syringe. They can also cause dangerous side effects including slowed heart rate and breathing, constricted blood vessels, and increased blood pressure.
In some cases, these side effects can lead to collapsed veins, tissue damage, and even death. Heroin users are also at risk of developing serious infections, such as endocarditis (an infection of the heart's inner lining).
Methamphetamine is a powerful and dangerous stimulant that can adversely affect the cardiovascular system. In particular, its use can lead to elevated blood pressure, acute vasospasm, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. These conditions can cause serious and potentially fatal damage to the arteries and blood vessels.
Meth can also damage the lining of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to rupture. In extreme cases, this can lead to stroke or even death. In addition to its effects on the circulatory system, methamphetamine also increases the risk of cancer, psychosis, and memory loss.
When you think of the dangers of prescription drugs, you might not consider the risks to your veins and circulatory system. However, certain medications can hurt these vital systems.
For example, prescription drugs like antipsychotics and antidepressants can have serious side effects. One of the most potentially dangerous is venous thromboembolism, which occurs when a blood clot forms in the veins. This can lead to heart conditions, stroke, and even death.
In addition, these drugs can also damage the circulatory system. Antipsychotics can cause high blood pressure, while antidepressants can cause irregular heartbeat.
Some prescribed blood thinners can also cause small cuts and tears in the veins, leading to inflammation and pain.
Tobacco use affects the entire cardiovascular system, including the heart, blood, and vessels. The side effects of smoking can be severe.
Over time, they can increase the risk of heart disease, heart failure, or stroke. This is thanks to the chemicals in tobacco that damage the veins and destroy the elasticity of the arteries. This is a common cause of heart problems.
Smoking has other side effects, including shortness of breath, heart arrhythmias, and increased risk for congenital heart defects. Nicotine, a chemical present in smoke, is also known to cause high blood pressure and increased heart rate.
There are many ways to protect your circulatory system from drug abuse and damage.
1. One way is to avoid using drugs that can damage the circulatory system. These include tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
2. Another way to protect your circulatory system is to eat a healthy diet. Eating foods high in fiber can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. Exercise is also important for maintaining a healthy circulatory system. Regular physical activity helps keep your heart and blood vessels healthy and helps lower blood pressure.
4. Finally, it is important to manage stress healthily. Stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease, so it is important to find a healthy way to cope with stress.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. With treatment, you can prevent the damaging effects of drugs on your body. StrugglingWithAddiction.com can match you up with the right rehab that will help you regain control of your life.
A lot can happen when you take more than the usual or recommended dose of a drug. Sometimes, you could experience mild symptoms like loss of coordination. But in extreme cases, you may end up with severe, harmful symptoms or even death. This is called an overdose.
Usually, your body’s metabolism can get rid of the substance, neutralizing the harmful effects. But if the drug level exceeds the threshold that your body can metabolize, the drug’s side effects can harm you physically and mentally.
An overdose happens when you take a toxic amount of a medicine or drug. It can be intentional or accidental:
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 841,000 drug overdose deaths since 1999.
In 2019 alone, 70,630 overdose deaths happened in the US. Of this number, about 70% involved an opioid, mainly synthetic opioids. Cocaine, on the other hand, accounted for 15,000 overdose deaths in the US in 2017. The misuse of and addiction to opioids is a crisis that affects public health.
The most recent data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that about 100,306 people died from a drug overdose in the US during the 12 months ending April 2021.
An overdose is a medical emergency that needs immediate medical attention. Seek medical advice if you exhibit the following symptoms after taking a drug, alcohol, or a combination of both. You can also call 911 for urgent cases.
With that in mind, let’s look at what happens to your body when you overdose.
What happens to your body when you overdose?
When you overdose, chances are you won’t be aware of what’s happening. However, those around you will spot some or all of the symptoms discussed above. Usually, that’s because of how the drugs interact with your body.
When you overdose on opioids, your body temperature, heart rate, and breathing may drop to dangerously low levels, causing suffocation, heart attack, or brain damage. Your veins may collapse and suppress the normal flow of blood throughout the body. You may also find it hard to spit or swallow because of the suppression of the gag reflex.
Opioid overdose may disrupt the normal functioning of receptors between the heart and brain, leading to slow heart rate or no heart rate at all. Slow breathing translates to low oxygen levels and abnormal heart rhythms.
Opioids may also limit oxygen flow to the brain and cause permanent brain damage within four minutes of oxygen deprivation. They may cause seizures that further damage the brain. In extreme cases, this damage can leave you paralyzed and unable to speak.
Overdosing on stimulants or overamping causes the opposite symptoms to overdosing on opioids. Patients experience chest pain, passing out, irregular breathing, racing heart, sweating, feeling hot, high blood pressure, weakness, shaking, or stroke. Overdosing to cocaine is particularly bad and can cause stroke or heart attack.
Other things that might happen when you overdose:
There are different treatments for a drug overdose. Your doctor will determine the right one for you based on the type of drugs involved and symptoms. They may:
You’ll need to see a doctor for a follow-up to ensure no delayed injuries to any body organ. If it was an intentional overdose, follow-up also ensures that there are systems in place to prevent a recurrence.
Once a deliberate overdose is managed and you are out of immediate medical danger, you’ll need psychiatric care. You may also be considered for a mental health evaluation. Getting support for mental or substance abuse problems can be helpful.
If it’s a child, they’ll need help dealing with the trauma and learning from the mistake. A follow-up can reduce anxiety and educate the child and the parent.
Keep all medications in a safe and secure place to prevent accidental overdose. In case it’s an unintentional, illicit drug overdose, it’s best to get away from access to the drugs to prevent the problem from recurring.
If it’s an intentional overdose, you’ll need to address the underlying problem fast. Addiction treatment can help reverse the effects of substance abuse and get you on the path to recovery.
Drug abuse or addiction is a huge problem in the United States. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, 164.8 million people aged 12 or older (60.2%) had used substances like illegal drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in the past month. Within that time, 47 million people smoked cigarettes, and 139.8 million drank alcohol. The survey adds that 19.4% of the population had used an illicit drug in the past year, with marijuana accounting for 15.9% of use. Prescription drugs misuse came second with 3.6%.
Sadly, the drug problem causes addiction, physical and psychological problems, and in some cases, death. In 2019 alone, there were about 71,000 drug overdose deaths in the country, and the trend seems to be holding up. While the drug use problem is rampant in the country, it’s important to note that not all states are struggling with the same types of substances. Different states have different drug problems, each with varying severity. This article will look at how drug of choice differs across the United States.
The legal drinking age in the US is 21 years old and is strictly enforced. However, statistics show that young adults in the country are also indulging in alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism pointed out that most states had a 2.35 gallons per capita alcohol consumption in 2016, which exceeds the country’s goal of 2.1.
Currently, New Hampshire is the state with the highest alcohol consumption per capita of 4.67 gallons. This is over double the country’s set goal. But Statista notes that the state has lower rates of binge drinking than other states. States like Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the highest rates of binge drinking. Binge drinking is the consumption of 4 or more drinks within 2 hours for women and five or more drinks with 2 hours for men. It is the most common form of excessive drinking and is linked to severe risks.
Utah is on the other end of the spectrum, with the lowest alcohol consumption per capita of 1.34 gallons. This is mainly attributable to the strict alcohol regulations in the state. Utah is one of the nine states with per capita less than 2.1 gallons.
The federal government classified marijuana as a schedule I drug, along with others like cocaine and heroin. However, 18 states and the country’s capital have legalized marijuana use for adults, while 36 states, including the US Virgin Islands, Guam, District of Columbia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico, allow for comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Consequently, the states with fewer marijuana restrictions tend to have higher use rates. In fact, states like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska are among the top 12 states with the highest use rates.
Currently, cannabis use among US adults in 2018-19 was highest in the District of Columbia, with about 27% of adults using the drug. South Dakota has the least marijuana use, with about 11.13%, according to Statista:
After pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that pain relievers wouldn’t cause addiction, healthcare providers started prescribing these drugs at greater rates in the late 1990s. This led to vast misuse of both opioid drugs before it became apparent that they could indeed be highly addictive. According to NSDUH’s 2020 survey, 10.1 million people misused prescription opioids in the past.
Studies show that prescription drugs are gateway drugs, leading people to use street drugs like heroin, fentanyl and cocaine. Prescription drugs have low opioid levels and are often used as pain-relievers. But chronic pain patients may need to take these drugs for a longer time, exposing themselves to the risks of drug addiction, and tolerance. So many chronic patients end up taking more pills each day, which can be expensive or inaccessible. As a result, they turn to alternatives like fentanyl and heroin to achieve the desired effect and avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The escalating use of prescription opioids for pain management has contributed significantly to the opioid epidemic. Opioid is widely used across the US, but it disproportionately affects the states of West Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Ohio. According to the National Institute of Health, these states had the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses, with 42.4, 33.7, 33.1, and 29.6 per 100,000 people, respectively. Hawaii, Iowa, Texas, and California had the least overdoses, accounting for 4.1, 4.8, 4.8 ad 5.8 per 100,000, respectively.
Aside from the overdose cases, opioids, alongside other drugs like heroin, are primarily used in populous states and those that serve as entry points. A survey based on HHS and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s ranked states by opioid misuse rates, and these were the findings:
While some states use specific substances more than others, the reality is that Americans are using alcohol or drugs and, sometimes, a combination of both. Alcohol and nicotine are legal and loosely regulated. The fact that they are affordable and easily accessible makes them a drug of choice for many people. Despite these, alcohol and nicotine carry a risk for addiction and even death.
Prescription medications are also technically legal. And since the doctors issue them, some Americans abuse them assuming it’s safe. But prescription drugs are highly addictive and can serve as a gateway to other drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Besides, these drugs account for 30% of emergency room admissions.
And with the growing cases of mental illness across the country, many are self-medicating with cocaine, marijuana, or alcohol. Unfortunately, these mind-altering substances offer temporary relief but may lead to addiction and other health-related issues.
Americans use drugs and alcohol for various reasons. Some do so as a social activity, like after work or during holidays, while others use it to fit in. Availability, experimenting, self-medicating, feeling good, etc., are common reasons people use drugs across the country. But there are other risk factors like having family members who abuse substances that predispose one to use.
Drug of choice may differ from state to state due to availability, state laws, and influence. But all in all, the drug is still a problem irrespective of the type of drug. If you or someone close to you is addicted to drugs, it is best to seek substance abuse treatment. Many treatment approaches exist to help you lead a drug-free life.
People abuse drugs for various reasons. Some do so to fit in, to seem more mature, or to experiment. Others use drugs to escape, to relieve boredom, or rebel. They see drugs as a solution or a way to cope with a situation. But since most of these drugs are highly addictive, they often end up being the problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, illicit drug use can lead to dependence, addiction, and in worst cases, the drugs can kill you.
You’ve probably heard that drugs are dangerous one too many times; it’s getting hard to believe. But all drugs, including prescription pain relievers, have real potential for harm. Prescription drugs can kill you - irrespective of whether you use them alone, or you mix them with other drugs. Vital statistics show that the death toll from abuse and misuse of such drugs is steadily rising. And if you don’t stop using, you could be part of these statistics soon.
Most drug fatalities result from a combination of factors, not just the drug itself. For example:
Stimulants like cocaine flood the brain with norepinephrine and dopamine, creating euphoric effects while boosting focus and confidence. They also stimulate the cardiovascular system – and that’s where the danger comes in. Cocaine causes rapid or irregular heart rate, blood vessel constriction, and increased blood pressure.
The constriction of blood vessels means less oxygen supply to the heart muscle and can cause a heart attack. Cocaine users are 23 times more likely to have a heart attack than those who don’t use. No wonder cocaine is referred to as the perfect heart attack drug.
When opioids and other depressants, get to the brain, they bind to mu-opioid receptors and activate them. This produces euphoric effects but also triggers a series of physical and psychological actions. Opioids produce respiratory-depressing effects. As a result, fatal overdose victims often die from respiratory depression (choking to death) because they cannot get enough oxygen to feed the demand of their body’s organs.
A drug overdose happens when a person takes too much of a substance or a mix of substances. This is so even if it was an accidental overdose. People can overdose on alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and other substances. In many cases, overdoses are fatal.
But those who get immediate medical attention can be saved. As mentioned earlier, drugs can overwhelm the body in different ways. But the most common cause of death during an overdose is respiratory failure.
The signs of an overdose depends on the type of drug involved. Overdose deaths involve sleepiness, confusion, and coma. Other factors can include:
Accidental overdose is the leading cause of death in the US for people under 50 years. Drug overdose deaths now surpass deaths from homicides, car accidents, firearms, or HIV/AIDS. In 2017 alone, more Americans died due to drug overdose than they did in the entire Vietnam War. Of these deaths, nearly 66% involved illicit drugs or prescription opioids.
In 2019, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. And the drug overdose trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down. According to recent provisional data from the CDC, the number of overdose deaths shot to 81,000 deaths in 2020. This increase is attributable to the pandemic and its negative impacts on lives, especially of those struggling with substance use disorders.
The addiction epidemic was already a significant problem across the US. But the pandemic has only made the problem worse. Its spread has sent people into panic. And with long term travel restrictions, social isolation, economic shock, disrupted access to addiction support, and increased mental health distress, people turn to drug use and misuse trying to cope.
In 2018, there were 14,666 overdose deaths involving cocaine in the US, according to a CDC report. This represents about a 2.5% rate increase in cocaine-involved deaths in 2018 than in 2014. The report says that the overdose death rates attributed to cocaine that has been cut with synthetic opioids, like fentanyl increased faster in recent years than did deaths from pure cocaine. Among 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, about 23,139 or 32% involved cocaine, psychostimulants, or both.
50,000 of the 2019 drug deaths were from an opioid overdose. The abuse of and addiction to opioids, including heroin, prescription drugs, and fentanyl, is a severe crisis that affects public health and economic and social welfare. CDC estimates the annual economic burden of prescription opioid abuse alone in the US to be $78.5b. This includes the cost of addiction treatment, health care, lost productivity, and criminal justice involvement.
States across the US are reporting a sharp increase in fentanyl-involved overdose deaths. Fentanyl overdoses can happen within seconds to minutes of use. The sad part is many users don’t seem to be looking for fentanyl and have no idea that the drug they’re using contains fentanyl.
Meth, cocaine, and powder heroin may be cut with fentanyl. There have also been cases of illicit Oxycodone and Xanax tablets containing fentanyl.
Meth-related deaths are also rising across the US, according to NIDA. Overall data shows overdose rates rose from less than 0.8 to 4.5 per 100,000 women and 2 to 10 per 100,000 men, a more than fivefold rise from 2011 to 2018.
Call 911 if you suspect a drug overdose. Emergency help can save a life. General treatment strategies involve:
Overdose deaths remain a critical problem across our nation. If you have prescription medicines, ensure that you use them according to the doctor’s recommendations. Overdose occurring from prescription drugs often happens when they are used in ways not advised by your doctor.
Quitting drug use is also a great way to prevent overdose. If you are having a hard time quitting, you should seek professional help. Addiction treatment centers in Texas and across the US have therapists and physicians who can help address mental and physical health issues.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a serious health issue in the US. A 2017 report by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 18 million people misused prescribed medications at least once in 2016. Most of these people assume that pain drugs are safer than illicit substances because they are prescribed medically. But they have become a "gateway drug" for many Americans.
When these drugs are taken in ways not intended by the doctor or taken by someone who’s not the patient, they can lead to severe health issues. Studies show that misuse of opioid pain relievers has opened the door to heroin use. Mental health is important, and mental illness can further drive drug use through something known as dual diagnosis.
Prescription opioids contain chemicals that relax the body and relieve pain. They are an essential component of treatment that, when used correctly, can enhance the quality of life and provide pain relief. But since opioids make people feel very relaxed and high, they’re sometimes used for non-medical reasons. This poses a serious risk of addiction. Opioids are highly addictive, and their misuse often leads to opioid use disorders, drug overdoses, and death. Common examples of prescription opioids include:
· Oxycodone (Percocet®, OxyContin®)
· Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
· Oxymorphone (Opana®)
· Morphine (Avinza®, Kadian®,)
Opioid medications are effective for pain management. They are generally safe when used for a short time and according to the doctor’s prescription. Opioid misuse happens when a person:
Humans have opiate receptors in the brain that are responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain. Opioids work by binding to these opiate receptors in the spinal cord, brain, and other locations in the body. They mimic the effect of pain-relieving chemicals that are produced naturally and block the pain perception.
Repeated use increases tolerance. So one may need to take higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving effects or reduce withdrawal symptoms. At this stage, someone becomes opioid-dependent and may develop drug-seeking behaviors to sustain their need for use. Others may turn to non-prescription alternatives like heroin, because it’s cheap, easy to access, and has a similar chemical composition as synthetic opioids.
Most sober people won’t use hard drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine because of the perceived danger. They tend to keep away because they are aware of the drugs’ potency and danger. On the other hand, pain-relieving opioids create a different perception. Most people see them as safe because they are prescribed at the hospital.
On their own, prescription drugs might not pose a threat. But when combined with some risk factors like mental health or misuse problems, prescription drugs may indeed be dangerous. In fact, they may serve as a doorway to other more powerful and highly addictive substances – like cocaine and heroin. People who are struggling with addiction or mental health issues are less likely to have inhibitions about using cocaine or meth.
Heroin has a similar chemical composition as prescription opioids. It is also cheaper and highly accessible as compared to prescription opioids. This makes it an appealing alternative for people who are addicted to opioid drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 4 to 6 percent of those who misuse prescribed opioids switch to heroin.
The most current data shows 33% of those entering treatment for opioid use disorder reported heroin as the first opioid they used frequently to get high. A study in the Chicago metropolitan area identified prescription opioid abuse as a path to heroin addiction.
As with any other addiction, patients with opioid dependence will always try to find more drugs to stay high. Current state laws and regulations limit opioid prescription. This makes it hard for these addicted patients to access prescription drugs so most of them turn to the streets to buy opioids and other drugs.
When they reach this point, they become determined to At this point, high and/or reducing the withdrawal symptoms. They only focus on what’s available and what they can pay for. Unfortunely, they ignore the impurities in the pills or resulting side effects.
While opioid overdose deaths are prevalent these days, a new study analyzed the role people sharing their pain medications with others may play in driving this drug epidemic. Of the 1,200 Americans in the study, 75% said they believed selling or sharing unused prescriptions fueled the nation’s addiction epidemic. 10% admitted that they had given or offered their medications to friends or family members for recreational or medical use.
When people (other than the patient) misuse prescription drugs for recreation or other reasons, they may develop an addiction that pushes them to get more drugs. Unfortunately, many of these people end up abusing other drugs to get high or offset the withdrawal symptoms. This puts them at risk of drug overdose and even death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids rose from 3,442 to 17,029 between 1999 and 2017.
The short answer is yes. Drug abuse is a spectrum. It can start with prescription drug misuse or outright drug experimentation and end up in a full-blown addiction to the same or other drugs. People who knowingly or unknowingly misuse prescription drugs may feel the need to sustain their high.
When they can longer get a prescription from the hospital, they will branch out to find readily available drugs that will “quench their thirst.” The same applies to those who use prescription medication for recreational or experimentation reasons.
Substance abuse disorder is a complicated problem. But the good news is that programs exist to help people stop abusing prescription and illicit drugs and regain control of their lives. No matter how severe the situation is, health care experts in addiction treatment centers can offer the much-needed help.