There’s no question that prescription drug abuse is a widespread issue in our country.
What many people may not realize, though, is that abuse of prescription medications can spiral into other forms of drug abuse.
New research is pointing to a correlation between prescription opioid abuse and heroin use.
How Prescription Drug Abuse Leads to Heroin Use
The Shifting Demographics of Heroin Users
The study comes from The New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Theodore J. Cicero has been researching heroin abuse since the 1970s and has seen a shift in usage and user demographics in this time.
When Cicero began his research, heroin use was mostly confined to poor inner-city males to suburban and rural areas. Currently, 90% of users are white, and most are in their mid-20s living in suburbia or rural communities. Many of them were introduced to heroin after using prescription medications.
Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin Use Go Hand-in-Hand
Cicero studied 15,000 patients at drug treatment centers across the United States. He found that in 2014, 42% of drug users in treatment reported taking both prescription opioids and heroin within the first month of starting treatment, up from 23.6% in 2008.
The correlation was particularly noticeable on the East and West coasts, while less so in the Midwest and the Deep South.
Why are These Drugs Linked?
Experts think that prescription drug users may be turning to heroin because heroin is easier to obtain and less expensive than prescription medications. Also, as the demographics shift and people see their friends using heroin, stigmas about the drug drop away.
Fight Drug Abuse in Your Workplace
Test Smartly Labs nationwide are equipped to provide drug testing for individuals and workplaces. We can test for heroin and other common drugs of abuse, as well as prescription drugs.
To learn more about our services, contact your nearest Test Smartly Labs today!