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Abuse Deterrent Opioids And The Fight Against Opiate-Based Painkiller Abuse

Doctors in America have been prescribing opiate painkillers to those with chronic or acute medical problems for a long time. Most patients have benefited from the relief they received from these opioid-based pain relievers. However, research has shown that most of these patients do not complete the dosage prescribed to them. Some of them sell the remaining drugs on the streets or give them to their friends or family members. Some keep using the drugs so as to enjoy the “high” feeling that the drug gives them.

Brandon is a 26 year old who received a supply of opiate painkillers after having his appendix removed. The painkillers were meant to help him manage the pain and discomfort he felt after the operation. One week later, the pain had subsided and he realized that he no longer needed the pills for the pain. However, Brandon realized that there was some “feel good” ­­­­effect he received from the drugs. So, this young man opted to continue using the drug thereby entering the abuse phase. Soon, his dose ran out and he could not go back to his doctor to refill his prescription so Brandon started looking for the drugs from his friends. He had now become hooked on opiate painkillers.

Brandon is just an example of many young people who have found themselves hooked on the euphoria caused by prescription opioids. Opioid based pain medication is manufactured from opium poppy, a flower that was first cultivated in 3400BC by the Sumerians in the lower Mesopotamia. The effect of using this flower led the Sumerians to refer to it as the “joy plant”.

Statistics indicate that there are over two million Americans who are hooked on opioid-based painkillers. Most of these addicts are either hooked on Oxycodone or Hydrocodone, the 2 most popular opiates. Recently, the US drug watchdog declared opioid painkiller abuse in America to be a national disaster or epidemic. According to this watchdog group, opiate painkiller addiction claims an average of 45 lives through overdose on a daily basis. Additionally, the watchdog observes that over Eighty percent of heroin addicts in America abused opiate painkillers as gateway drugs.

Measures to curb the high rate of opiate pain medication abuse and dealing with this crisis has become the center of focus for many states. Some doctors feel that these pain medication pills are the best remedy for helping those who have to deal with pain associated with chronic or acute medical conditions. Some feel that these pills need to be manufactured in such a way as to reduce the chances of abuse. The FDA has also joined in the fight and given some incentives to those manufacturers who wish to pull their addictive drugs off the shelves and replace them with alternatives that are less prone to abuse.

Some manufacturers have taken advantage of these incentives and developed alternative pain medication that are less susceptible to abuse. This has been done by designing the drugs with hard shells which makes the medication resistant to crushing, some have added gumming agents making the pills insoluble in water, while others have added an immobilizer which counteracts the effect of the opioid when the pill is crushed or dissolved. All of these measures are meant to make the painkillers abuse-deterrent thereby making them harder to be abused for recreational purposes.

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