Prescription Painkillers Tagged as Gateway Drug to Heroin


By Dr. Mercola

In keeping with a latest report commissioned by the Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage,1 as many as 1.5 million Individuals have been power heroin customers in 2010. Such statistics add additional gas to issues about rising narcotics abuse and drug-related deaths.

Over the previous 5 years alone, heroin deaths have elevated by 45 p.c2–an improve that officers blame on the rise of addictive prescribed drugs resembling Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora, all of that are opioids (derivatives of opium).

In keeping with Gil Kerlikowske, director of the U.S. Workplace of Nationwide Drug Management Coverage,3 roughly 100 Individuals died from drug overdoses every day in 2010.

Prescription painkillers have been liable for 16,600 deaths that yr, and heroin was concerned in about 3,000 deaths. (In the meantime, cocaine use decreased by about 50 p.c between 2002 and 2010.)

The rationale for the resurgence of heroin is largely because of it being cheaper than its prescription counterparts, and US officers now warn that narcotic painkillers are a driving power within the rise of substance abuse and deadly overdoses. In accordance to the US Justice Division, prescription opiates and heroin are two of essentially the most deadly substances out there.

Prescription Narcotics—A Driving Pressure in Rising Substance Abuse

This connection lastly acquired some media consideration following the demise of Philip Seymour Hoffman,4 a 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor. He died from heroin overdose on February 2. Final yr, Hoffman entered rehab when dependancy to prescription painkillers led him to change to heroin.

US Lawyer Common Eric Holder not too long ago introduced his workplace is taking steps to deal with the issue head-on. This effort consists of5 however will not be restricted to monitoring drug overdose developments, educating well being care professionals and the general public about prescription drug abuse, and selling packages proven to forestall such abuse.

The federal authorities will even require producers of extended-release and long-acting opioids to supply prescribers with instructional packages explaining the dangers and advantages of opioid remedy, and choose acceptable candidates for such remedy. Additionally, as reported by Reuters:6

“As a part of that marketing campaign, Holder reiterated the Obama administration’s name for extra regulation enforcement companies to coach and equip personnel with an overdose-reversal medicine referred to as naloxone… Holder mentioned 17 states and the District of Columbia have amended their legal guidelines to extend entry to naloxone, a blocking agent that may reverse the consequences of an overdose and assist restore respiration.”

Docs Are the Main Opium Pushers of the twenty first Century

In accordance to a examine revealed in JAMA Inner Medication,7 whereas most opioid drug abusers acquire the drug from a buddy or relative, (23 p.c pay for them; 26 p.c get them without cost), people who’re at best danger for drug abuse are simply as more likely to get theirs from a health care provider’s prescription.

Earlier drug abuse prevention packages have primarily targeted on those that get their arms on opioids and not using a prescription. You could recall adverts from earlier years selling the secure storage and disposal of prescription medicine.

However such efforts have utterly missed these at best danger for a drug overdose, i.e. those that use such medicine per physician’s orders. Twenty-seven p.c of the highest-risk customers get their medicine from their physician even after they’re utilizing the drug nonmedically for 200 or extra days per yr… CDC Director Tom Frieden M.D., M.P.H not too long ago echoed the examine’s authors when he mentioned that:8

“Many abusers of opioid ache relievers are going on to medical doctors for his or her medicine. Well being care suppliers must display for abuse danger and prescribe judiciously by checking previous information in state prescription drug monitoring packages. It is time we cease the supply and deal with the troubled.”

One other JAMA examine9 notes that, of the drug overdose deaths occurring in Tennessee between 2003 and 2010, extra have been brought on by prescribed drugs than heroin and cocaine mixed. Extremely, between 2007 and 2011, one-third of the inhabitants of Tennessee stuffed a minimum of one prescription for an opioid every yr… In keeping with the authors:

“Excessive-risk use of prescription opioids is frequent and rising in Tennessee and is related to elevated overdose mortality. Use of prescription drug–monitoring program information to direct risk-reduction measures to the kinds of sufferers overrepresented amongst overdose deaths would possibly scale back mortality related to opioid abuse.”

Docs Are Prescribing Extra Sedatives Than Ever

In associated information, preliminary analysis10 introduced on the 2014 assembly of the American Academy of Ache Medication in Phoenix, Arizona discovered that 12.6 p.c of all major care visits made by Individuals between 2002 and 2009 concerned prescriptions for sedatives and/or narcotic painkillers (opioids). The examine additionally discovered that:

  • The variety of prescriptions for sedative medicine rose by 12.5 p.c a yr
  • Sufferers receiving a narcotic painkiller have been 4.2 occasions extra more likely to obtain a second prescription for a sedative
  • The variety of joint prescriptions of opioids and sedatives additionally elevated by 12 p.c a yr in that timeframe
  • Prescription sedatives and narcotic painkillers are liable for a minimum of 30 p.c of narcotic painkiller-related deaths
  • Apart from deaths brought on by overdose, different dangers related to sedative use embrace falls within the aged, emergency room visits, and drug dependence

In keeping with co-author Dr. Ming-Chih Kao, a medical assistant professor at Stanford College Medical Middle:11 “Docs must be higher educated concerning the dangers of combining the 2 medicines, and there must be higher coordination between those that prescribe narcotic painkillers (typically major care medical doctors or ache specialists) and people who prescribe sedatives (typically major care medical doctors or psychiatrists).”

FDA Clamps Down on Painkiller Prescriptions, However Approves New Pure Hydrocodone Product

The US Meals and Drug Administration (FDA) not too long ago really helpful tighter controls on painkiller prescriptions,12, 13 and has introduced its intention to reclassify hydrocodone-containing painkillers from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug. The drug schedule system classifies medicines primarily based on their potential for abuse and dependancy, in addition to different medical standards. The reclassification will have an effect on how hydrocodone-containing medicine could be prescribed and refilled. Docs will solely be allowed to prescribe a 90-day provide of the drug per prescription, they usually will not be permitted to telephone in refills. 

Slightly, the affected person has to convey the prescription with them to the pharmacy. The brand new laws are anticipated to take impact someday this yr. Satirically sufficient, whereas speaking concerning the want for stricter controls and much less addictive painkillers, it not too long ago accepted the primary drug containing pure hydrocodone for the US market, referred to as Zohydro ER (Zogenix). All different hydrocodone-containing painkillers on the market are combined with different non-addictive substances.

Prescription Medicines Are the New Gateway Medicine

Many are nonetheless below the phantasm that prescribed drugs are in some way safer than avenue medicine, but it surely’s essential to comprehend that prescription medicines like hydrocodone and oxycodone are opioid derivatives—identical to heroin. Heroin is definitely diacetylmorphine and far stronger than morphine. An ideal instance of this nonchalance could be seen in statistics14 exhibiting that greater than 14 p.c of pregnant ladies are prescribed opioid medicine throughout their being pregnant…

As defined by Dr. Wilson Compton,15 deputy director of the US Nationwide Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone “are all categorized as opioids as a result of they exert their impact by attaching to the opioid receptor present in our mind and spinal twine.”

Additionally they create a short lived feeling of euphoria, adopted by dysphoria, which might simply lead to dependancy. Some individuals find yourself taking more and more bigger doses to be able to regain the euphoric impact, or escape the unhappiness brought on by withdrawal. Others discover they should proceed taking the medicine not solely to scale back withdrawal signs however to easily really feel regular. Opioids additionally depress your coronary heart charge and respiration. Giant doses may cause sedation and slowed respiration to the purpose that respiration stops altogether, leading to demise.16

13 Non-Drug Options for Ache Aid

Contemplating the dangers, I strongly advocate exhausting your choices earlier than resorting to a narcotic ache reliever. I consider there are higher, viable alternate options. In case you are affected by ache, whether or not acute or power, I like to recommend working with a educated well being care practitioner to decide what’s actually triggering your ache, after which deal with the underlying trigger.

Keep in mind, together with exposing you to doubtlessly lethal dangers, medicines solely present symptomatic aid. They do NOT deal with the underlying reason for your ache. The next choices present wonderful ache aid with none of the well being hazards that prescription (and even over-the-counter) painkillers carry. So should you’re in ache, attempt these first, earlier than even desirous about prescription painkillers of any type.

  1. Get rid of or radically scale back processed meals, grains, and processed sugars out of your eating regimen. Avoiding grains and processed sugars will decrease your insulin and leptin ranges and reduce insulin and leptin resistance, which is one of the essential the reason why inflammatory prostaglandins are produced. That’s the reason stopping sugar and sweets is so essential to controlling your ache and different kinds of power sicknesses.
  2. Optimize your manufacturing of vitamin D by getting common, acceptable solar or secure tanning mattress publicity, which is able to work via quite a lot of totally different mechanisms to scale back your ache.
  3. Emotional Freedom Approach (EFT) is a drug-free strategy for ache administration of every kind. EFT borrows from the ideas of acupuncture, in that it helps you steadiness out your refined power system. It helps resolve underlying, typically unconscious, destructive feelings that could be exacerbating your bodily ache. By stimulating (tapping) well-established acupuncture factors along with your fingertips, you rebalance your power system, which tends to dissipate ache.
  4. Astaxanthin is likely one of the simplest fat-soluble antioxidants recognized. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in lots of instances works much more successfully than anti-inflammatory medicine. Increased doses are usually required and one might have 8 mg or extra per day to realize this profit.
  5. Ginger: This herb has potent anti-inflammatory exercise and affords ache aid and stomach-settling properties. Contemporary ginger works nicely steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
  6. Curcumin: In a examine of osteoarthritis sufferers, those that added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their therapy plan had lowered ache and elevated mobility.17 A previous examine additionally discovered {that a} turmeric extract composed of curcuminoids blocked inflammatory pathways, successfully stopping the overproduction of a protein that triggers swelling and ache.18
  7. Boswellia: Also called boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb comprises particular lively anti-inflammatory substances. That is one of my private favorites as I’ve seen it work nicely with many rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
  8. Bromelain: This enzyme, present in pineapples, is a pure anti-inflammatory. It may be taken in complement type however consuming recent pineapple, together with a number of the bromelain-rich stem, can also be useful.
  9. Cetyl myristoleate (CMO): This oil, present in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I’ve used this for myself to alleviate ganglion cysts and a gentle annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up after I kind an excessive amount of on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
  10. Night Primrose, black currant, and borage oils: These include the important fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is beneficial for treating arthritic ache.
  11. Cayenne cream: Additionally referred to as capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried scorching peppers. It alleviates ache by depleting the physique’s provide of substance P, a chemical part of nerve cells that transmits ache alerts to your mind.
  12. Strategies resembling yoga, Basis Coaching, acupuncture, meditation,19 cold and warm packs, and different mind-body methods may end in astonishing ache aid with none medicine.



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