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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Prescription Pain Medication Linked With Heroin Use

Heroin syringe
People who abuse prescription pain medication often turn to heroin as a cheaper more effective way to maintain their habit. A new report conducted by the government ties prescription drug abuse to an increased risk of heroin use.

Americans illegally using prescription drugs are 19 times more likely than others in their age group, ages 12 to 49, to begin using heroin, the report found. 

Almost 80 percent of those who started using heroin said they had previously used prescription painkillers illegally, HealthDay reports. With 3.6 percent of people who had used prescription painkillers illegally started using heroin within five years, according to the report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Prescription pain relievers, when used properly for their intended purpose, can be of enormous benefit to patients, but their nonmedical use can lead to addiction, serious physical harm and even death,” Dr. Peter Delany, Director of SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said in a news release. “This report shows that it can also greatly increase an individual’s risk of turning to heroin use — thus adding a new dimension of potential harm.”

Americans who said they used heroin in the past year increased from 373,000 in 2007, to 669,000 in 2012, according to a report.

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