More painkiller addicts are using heroin of late, according to a recent study. Prescription drug abusers are not completely abandoning the medication for heroin but instead are using both drugs at the same time depending on which is available to them at the respective moment.
The research done by Washington University School of Medicine scientists in St. Louis also found that on both the east and west coast usage of both prescription opioids and heroin at the same time is higher than the usage of prescription drugs alone. This tendency varies by region and is, for example, lower in the Midwest and in the Deep South where there is a high frequency of prescription substance abuse, but not by far such a high demand for heroin.
The habit of combining the two is, overall, on the rise though as the study concluded that, throughout last year, almost 42 percent of addicts started using a combination of prescription pills and heroin within a month of entering a treatment program. This, compared to the 23.6 percent for the same category reported in 2008, is a concerning surge in the consumption of such drugs.
According to the lead investigator involved in the study, Theodore J. Cicero, addict’s aversion to heroin has also lowered. While, in recent years, people used to try to stay away from the dangerous substance and prefer to resort to prescription pills to feed their addiction, the reaction to heroin has become a more tolerant one, as the drug has sadly become a more common drug.
The research team operated anonymous surveys to monitor drug abuse patterns and usage preferences. The addicts that took part in the survey also had the option to renounce their anonymity in order to answer more complex surveys and aid in the research.
267 patients chose to reveal the additional information and, out of those, 129 stated that they had abused prescription drugs prior to choosing to start using heroin. When asked why they chose to make the switch, 73 percent of them revealed reasons ranging from cost and accessibility of heroin versus the prescription pills.
The government’s recent crackdown on the so called “pill mills” and the illegal prescription of painkillers by doctors has made it harder for many addicts to gain access to the substances they were addicted to. As a consequence, the researchers explain, they have turned to other drugs that are more easily accessible such as heroin, to satisfy their addiction instead.
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