Are More Controls on Prescription Painkillers Causing an Increase in Heroin Use?

prescription drugsAlthough everyone seems to agree that the prescription drug and heroin addiction problem in the United States have reached devastating levels, there are conflicting opinions still about what continues to fuel the problem as well as what are the best ways to fix it.

One way has been for lawmakers and other officials to put more restrictions on painkillers, as the explosion of these drugs on the market has a direct correlation to the rise in heroin use as well. However, some people claim that more restrictions on these drugs actually drive people to seek out heroin, and therefore don’t agree that more controls equal less people becoming addicted.

There is growing evidence, though, that indicates there is real progress being made by addressing the prescribing habits of doctors and limiting prescription drug fraud through monitoring programs.

Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) looked into the theory that more restrictions on prescription painkillers leads to more heroin addicts and they did not find sufficient information to support this belief. In fact, they found that deaths from heroin use were on the rise before the 2009-2011 era when many of the painkiller restrictions were put in. And, even though there are plenty of documented cases where people who were addicted to heroin firs started with painkillers, there has been a major influx of cheaper, stronger heroin coming in from Mexico that has also greatly contributed.

Of course, legislative or policy changes alone will not have enough of an impact on the problem, though they can continue to help limit access to some of these drugs. The more effective routes are through implementation of better prevention programs for people of all ages and more treatment diversions so people can begin their recovery.

If you know someone who is addicted to prescription drugs, heroin, or any other kind of substance, contact us today to see how we can help.