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prescription painkiller abuse, heroin addiction

According to some of the latest research results from SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality the illegal use or abuse of any narcotic prescription drugs will increase the risk of heroin use by a considerable amount. The study states that those who have abused prescription drugs in the past were as much as 19 times more likely to engage in heroin abuse. Americans who were between the ages of 12 years old and 49 years old, and who had previously abused prescription drugs intended to relieve pain, were much more likely to turn to heroin abuse within the following year than those who have never abused narcotic prescription drugs. The study did note that a little under 4% of this population had used heroin in the 5 years following the prescription drug abuse though.


Non medical use of prescription painkillers often causes addiction, and this can lead to serious or permanent injury or even death in some cases. In 2011 the number of Americans that admitted heroin abuse had doubled when compared to the levels for 2007, and this trend is alarming. The rate for this form of drug abuse in individuals under 12 did not change, but the rate for those between 12 years old and 49 years old skyrocketed. What was surprising is that the rate for heroin use was lowest in the southern USA, but this region still had high prescription drug abuse rates. The study also showed that African Americans were the least likely to turn to heroin abuse when compared to other ethnic groups and racial populations. What reasons can you think of for these differences?