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Can Prescription Drug Abuse Lead to Heroin Addiction?

man abuses prescription drugs

Over the last two decades, there has been a drastic increase in prescription opioid abuse, often leading to addiction and overdose.  This epidemic has become a major concern for health officials and politicians alike, even prompting White House action to combat this crisis.  Perhaps even more concerning, research has uncovered a connection between opioid abuse and the risk of heroin addiction. One study found that over 80 percent of those entering treatment for heroin addiction used prescription opioids before trying heroin.  People who begin abusing opioid pain relievers may draw a line between themselves and heroin addicts, but that reality may not be as far away as they think.   Opioid pain relievers, also known as narcotics, are strong prescription medications used to treat pain.  There is some debate about whether these medications may be prescribed too liberally by doctors who are unwilling to explore other pain management options.  The fact remains, however, that these drugs are fairly easy to obtain. Many people who receive a prescription will develop a dependence on the euphoria-inducing effects of the drug, while others will buy or steal the drug from people with prescriptions.  

86% of Heroin Users Started with Prescription Opioids

These pain relievers are all derived from the opium plant, as is heroin.  Heroin was once used as a pain reliever but has since been classified as an illegal street drug due to its highly addictive and inebriating qualities.  While there is more research to be done regarding the connection between prescription pain pill abuse and heroin addiction, it is likely that people who develop an opioid addiction may turn to heroin when they are unable to acquire more pills, or they have developed a tolerance that increases their cravings for a stronger drug.  All opioid addictions have life-altering and dangerous consequences. Professional treatment for opioid addiction is the best chance of experiencing lasting recovery.  

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  We use an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.