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Opioid drug abusers often turn to street drugs to satiate their addiction

01-03 | By CSAA Team

Opioid drug abusers often turn to street drugs to satiate their addiction

The extensive abuse and overdose of prescription opioids have resulted in an epidemic in the United States. In 2012, health care providers had written 259 million prescriptions for painkillers which were enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to experts, millions of pills are still being pushed into the black market that continues to feed the nation’s opioid addiction.

With an eye on combating the opioid crisis, the CDC issued guidelines in 2016 for prescribing opioids for chronic pain to patients 18 years or older in primary care settings. These recommendations primarily focused on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. When people using opioids get addicted to them due to regular use, or due to some other reason, they often turn towards street drugs to satiate their cravings or when their addictions go out of hand.

Further, according to studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the abuse of prescription drugs opens the door to heroin use. Almost half of the young adults who abuse heroin reportedly abused prescription opioids before moving to heroin and other drugs.

Cheap street drugs an alternative for prescription opioids

Various researches show that prescription opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, Oxycodone, etc., are liable to be abused. The cost, which can range anywhere from $20 to $ 60, as well as accessibility to such drugs can lure an individual in seeking the drugs to get high.

Other drugs like heroin seem like a good alternative for individuals who abuse prescription drugs since as compared to the expensive opioids, heroin sells for $3 to $10 a bag, which is much cheaper. There is also an increasing trend of purchasing drugs online apart from the fact that new drugs keep surfacing in the streets that are low-cost in contrast to the average prescription medication. These new drugs are sometimes mixed with powerful synthetic drugs like fentanyl or other potent compounds that can easily be produced in a laboratory.

Repercussions of strict regulations

Individuals with injuries or other problem who use opioids often get addicted to them and may misuse other’s prescriptions to procure the drugs. Such people might also try and obtain the drugs from friends and family members. But with new guidelines in place and the government’s efforts to spread awareness about the ill-effects of prescription drugs, it has become much harder to get these drugs. Some of the effects of the strict regulations are:

  • Individuals with real chronic medical conditions are being under-prescribed for their pain.
  • Prices of prescription drugs have been rising manifold in the streets in the past two decades. Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is an opioid pain medication and its street price was already 40 to 50 times higher than its retail price, according to NIDA’s research monograph series published in 1993.
  • Physicians, health care practitioners and pharmacists are cautious in writing and prescribing such medications in the fear of losing their license and their jobs.
  • There is an increase of synthetic drugs like fentanyl, U-47700 or Pink, carfentanil, etc., making inroads into the nation from overseas laboratories.
  • Pharming, a term originally coined by teenagers, is used to describe the raiding of medicine closets for prescription medicine. Such activities, along with doctor shopping, prescription fraud and theft of prescription medication, are on the rise.

Path to recovery

It is important to identify the source of illicit drugs as it helps public health authorities to deal with them in the most appropriate way. Until now, most of the efforts to tackle the opioid crisis focused on curbing prescription drugs and training doctors and patients about the potential for abuse. Additionally, one must be wary of counterfeit drugs as some of them are laced with potent compounds that can cause unintentional overdoses and can even result in death.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin or opioid addiction, contact the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors to locate the best substance abuse treatment programs in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online to connect with the best substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado.


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