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Are Prescription Opioids A Cause for Heroin Addiction?

Opioid addicts moving to heroin because of affordability and ease of availability.

New data released by US hospitals is indicating that heroin addicts are moving from prescription opioids to this substance because it is an easier way to get high after research was conducted on the subject.

Emergency room treatment and hospital admissions for opioid overdose like OxyContin decreased by about 5% from 2010 to 2014. The decrease coincided after that tough new law for prescribing opioids to deal with the epidemic was drafted, said the authors of the study.

Decrease In Opioid Overdose Resulted In An Increase In Heroin Overdose Numbers

New laws to regulate prescription opioids resulted in fewer opioid overdoses.

The new laws which were drafted certainly resulted in a decrease in emergency room treatments for OxyContin overdose but at the same time resulted in the skyrocketing of the treatment for heroin overdose. A substantial rate of increase in excess of 31% was noted annually since 2008, said the senior researcher and associate professor of the Stanford University School of medicine, Tina Hernandez Bussard.

She mentioned that the results provided conclusive evidence of what had earlier been just a suspicion that addicts of prescription opioids were beginning to depend on heroin because it is affordable and is easier to obtain.

The research also provided information to show that the addiction to prescription opioids was affecting various types of people than earlier believed. Young white males from the Northeastern United States were highly susceptible to opioid addiction back in 1997 but presently Americans from all groups are dealing with the consequences of opioid abuse.

The rate at which men and women are suffering from opioid overdoses remains similar regardless of the age group they belong to. The opioid crisis has also spread its tentacles throughout the United States.

Hospital Admits Data Provided Has Been Observed In Earlier Studies

Hospitals always suspected opioid addicts would move to heroin when supply became scarce.

The associate director of health law and policy from the National Center On Addiction And Substance Abuse, Lindsey Vuolo has confirmed that the data provided by the hospital mirrors the earlier observations during studies on death’s caused by overdoses. She has also mentioned that the addiction began with opioids that were prescribed and eventually moved to heroin. Additionally, she also confirmed that hospital data could show a further move from heroin towards synthetic opioids such as fentanyl if that trend was allowed to continue.

When conducting the fresh study federal data on hospitals and emergency department admissions throughout the United States from 1997 and 2014 was reviewed by Hernandez Bussard. The investigators were specifically looking at the data on hospital admissions related to the opioid use and an overdose which was caused by opioids.

The Findings Of the Opioid Crisis In America

There was an increase of 8% in cases of prescription opioid overdose between 1997 and 2010 according to hospitals. For emergency rooms, the annual increase between 2006 and 2010 was 5%.

Former Pres. Barack Obama ordered action to be taken on the prescription opioid epidemic in 2010. Researchers have noted that a decrease of 5% every year was observed by both hospitals and emergency rooms for the treatment of opioid overdose.

The availability of opioids had become restricted after the new laws and rules to regulate prescription opioids were implemented. It is presently believed that the difficulties in obtaining opioids have perhaps led to the 31% increase in heroin overdoses in emergency rooms from the beginning of 2008 suggested the authors of the study.

Prescription opioids have been receiving plenty of attention ever since 2010 and the corresponding decrease in hospitals and emergency room treatments were appreciated by the researchers. However, they are still concerned about the substantial increase which has been observed in heroin-related admissions. The researchers have also mentioned that the response of the country to the opioid epidemic hasn’t been adequate because no efforts have been focused on treating the addiction.

The availability of prescription opioids has definitely been restricted and the efforts made by the governing authorities may be providing some positive results but the numbers of people that are addicted to opioids of other types have not decreased.

The problem currently being faced by the medical fraternity is related to the lack of treatment centers and facilities to help the people who are addicted to opioids along with the fact that the doctors that are treating opioid addictions are not ensuring that the addicts are properly connected to the treatment recommended and are often noticing them developing addictions to opioids of other types.

Americans have enacted laws to curb prescription opioid addiction but also need to ensure it does not lead to an increase in heroin addictions by connecting their patients to proper treatment centers and facilities.

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