Friends and family members of heroin and opioid addicts often experience great difficulty in understanding how and why an individual gets hooked on these drugs. Since they are not familiar with the methods of addiction, they may believe that the addict simply did not have enough will power to stay clean.
Opioids are medications that include Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, morphine, codeine and related drugs. Most are physically addictive, not just psychologically addictive. And opioids often create a dependence where there is a need to take higher doses of a medication to get the same effect.
A new study refutes the assumption that addiction to these medicines is not a personality weakness. Rather these investigators concluded that much of the cause for this painkiller drug dependency can be linked to “legitimate” reasons.
According to these scientists, since 2002 overdose deaths from pain killers have soared and they reframe the addiction of heroin and opioid to be “caused by overprescribing of painkillers” by medical personnel.
The prevalence of opioid addiction started rising as long-term prescriptions for chronic pain relief medications became more common. Since 1997, the number of Americans seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers increased by 900%. It is no wonder that addiction to these drugs has also exploded.
This upsurge in heroin and opioid treatment is also associated with the high rates of overdose deaths and the penetration of use into “non-urban” communities.
But there is hope.
The researchers outline several strategies for prevention and treatment in this area, including:
- A wider use of state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMPs) data. The PDMP alerts health care professionals to patients who “doctor-shop” to obtain multiple prescriptions for the same drug at the same time
- Increasing access to naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote, to emergency personnel and even to family members of people at risk for overdose
This new research brings tangible proof to this deadly addiction and recommends innovative strategies for the future.