The Relation Between Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin

Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin

Fentanyl. Dilaudid. Morphine. All have their place within end of life care, but each comes with a heightened risk for serious addiction. As recent studies are beginning to show, their abuse may be more closely linked to heroin addiction than many people realize. Drug rehab centers all across the country are beginning to see patients with addictions that blur the lines between prescribed and street opiates.

Why Are Prescription Opiates and Heroin so Closely Linked?

Both prescription opiates and heroin contain the same type of drug: opiates. Sourced from opium, a substance taken from the Somniferum poppy, opiates not only reduce pain signals in the brain but also induce euphoria, happiness, and comfort.

For someone undergoing palliative care, the euphoria and side effects are desired; it reduces their anxiety, calms them, and resolves their pain, too.

However, for someone who isn’t in pain, prescription opiates can become just as addictive as heroin itself, especially when patients take them in ever-escalating doses. Once the user reaches a high enough ceiling dose, the withdrawal and/or addictive qualities become essentially indistinguishable.

How Does Prescription Opiate Abuse Lead to Heroin Abuse?

Because opiate addiction side effects and symptoms are virtually the same across the board after high enough doses, even valid pain patients can sometimes become addicted. This is most common with chronic pain conditions or temporary injuries for which opiates are prescribed.

The patient takes the medication correctly, but builds a tolerance, and then ends up in a self-defeating loop where they experience withdrawal symptoms and try to re-medicate them away. Eventually, the patient experiences a full-blown addiction.

The problem occurs when doctors either fail to manage these symptoms or the addiction correctly. Some “fire” their patients, releasing them back to the streets, while others prescribe ever-escalating and dangerous doses to keep their patients free of pain.

Eventually, the patient loses the ability to stay comfortable on even the highest doses or can no longer afford their prescription. It may not seem logical, but turning to heroin can be an affordable and easily accessible solution for some. Sadly, all this does is make the situation worse.

Whether you’re a pain patient or just a weekend warrior who has lost control of your opiate use, withdrawing from opiates and staying clean aren’t easy to do. The best way to ensure your success is to seek out drug rehab from a facility such as Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers. Medical detoxes serve to lessen symptoms while keeping you on the right track so that you can move forward with a much more healthy and enjoyable life.