The Link Between Pain Medication and Heroin
The link between heroin and prescription pills has long been discussed. We’ve all heard that there has been a rise in overdose deaths from heroin, or prescription pain pills. In fact, the increase has been so alarming that the United States now refers to heroin addiction as an epidemic. Not surprisingly, Heroin and prescription pain pills belong to the same class of drugs: opioids. Opioids work by attaching themselves to specific centers in the brain called opioid receptors. These are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, intestines, and other organs in the body. When opioids attach to these receptors, they can decrease the amount of pain a person is feeling. Opioids usually cause a person to feel relaxed and happy—almost euphoric — and that can lead some people to misuse the drugs. Eventually, some people who have a legitimate use for opioids in treating certain ailments can become dependent on prescription pain pills will switch to heroin because it’s cheaper than opioids, easier to get, and has similar effects. This trend in accessibility and pricing has become especially pronounced since 2013, when the Food and Drug Administration announced that they would be tightening controls on access by limiting the number of refills an individual could have before returning to the doctor for a new prescription. With these limitations in place, many turned to illegal methods in order to acquire opioid painkillers, which quickly become a gateway towards heroin abuse. One pill can cost up to $80 on the street, while one balloon of heroin can be as cheap as $10. Misusing prescription pain pills or using heroin is extremely dangerous.