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Evolution Of Painkillers To Heroin

Prescription pain medications have been the main culprit for the rise of overdose deaths around the world over the past decade. Heroin has become the drug of choice for most opiate addicts, but that is only because of the high prices and tamper-proofing of pain medications. Most addicts do not start off shooting heroin. Many start by a prescription from their Doctor, or by trying a painkiller from a friend or family member.  When pain is not present, the pain medications give a euphoric feeling. That little feeling causes a craving in the brain. Over time and constant use of these medications, brain chemicals begin to change and the body becomes dependent on the medications. If the addict does not keep administering the opiate, they go through opiate withdrawal. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are extremely hard to get through and leaves most addicts unable to function.

Prescription painkillers were long abused since the late 90's until the present. Purdue Pharma released Oxycontin (OC) in 1997. This drug was a time released medication that would administer small amounts of Oxycodone throughout the pills life. The problem with this medication is that if the pill was cracked, crushed, or bitten, the medication became immediate release. This led to an influx of users demanding the drug on the black market. Oxycontin grew in popularity and at the same time created a generation of opiate addicts. The drug was looked at as being safer than heroin because it was FDA approved and at the same time was relatively cheap.

Thousands of people became addicted to Oxycontin and a lot of pressure was put on Purdue Pharma to do something about their pill. In August of 2010, they stopped making the “OC” Oxycontin and released the “OP” Oxycontin. This medication was created to deter abuse. When the pill was crushed, it turned into a hard gel, making it impossible to snort or shoot up. The change to Oxycontin created a need for addicts to look elsewhere for their high. Purdue Pharma covered their behinds but addicts still had their means to get their immediate Oxycodone high. Roxicodone is an immediate release Oxycodone pill that is easily crushed into a fine powder to be snorted, chewed, shot or even smoked. Most commonly known on the black market by the name, “blues”, these pills and heroin became the go-to for many opiate addicts. The problem with “blues” is that the price for these pills has skyrocketed. One 30 milligram pill used to cost $15-$20 5 years ago. Since Oxycontin changed their pills, the prices for "blues" is anywhere from $30-$35 per pill. These high prices have made it nearly impossible for addicts to afford their growing habits. This is the main reason we have seen a huge surge in heroin use.

If you open your local newspaper, chances are you will read about the overdose deaths from heroin in your area. The epidemic is real and affecting people all around you. Opiate addiction affects people of all races, religions and financial backgrounds. Some thing that needs to be understood is that heroin is not the only danger. If you have young teens in your life and you want to educate them on drugs, do not spend too much time on heroin alone.  Explain to them that opiate based prescription painkillers are "prescription grade heroin" and the dangers are just as real. This is what leads to heroin addiction. Most kids are unaware of how dangerous painkillers are so explain to them that pain pills will quickly lead to heroin.


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