Abuse of painkillers raises risk of heroin use, study finds

August 22, 2013
Abuse of painkillers raises risk of heroin use: study
People who used prescription drugs illegally were 19 times more likely to move to heroin.

(HealthDay)—Illegal use of prescription pain drugs increases a person's risk of becoming a heroin user, a U.S. government report suggests.

The researchers found that Americans aged 12 to 49 who had used prescription pain relievers illegally were 19 times more likely to have started using heroin within the past year than other people in that age group.

Nearly 80 percent of people who recently started using heroin had previously used illegally, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report added.

It also noted, however, that only 3.6 percent of people who had illegally used prescription pain medicines started using heroin within five years.

"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 and even death," Dr. Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, said in an agency 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," Delany said.

The number of Americans who reported that they used heroin in the past 12 months rose from 373,000 in 2007 to 620,000 in 2011. During the same period, the number of people who reported in the past 12 months increased from 179,000 to 369,000, and the number of people who started using heroin for the first time in the past 12 months climbed from 106,000 to 178,000.

Between 2008 and 2011, the number of people who started using heroin increased among adults aged 18 to 49, but there was no change in the rate among youths aged 12 to 17. During the same period, there was an increase in the number of people with annual incomes of less than $50,000 who started using heroin, the report said.

The number of people who started using heroin in the past 12 months rose sharply in all regions of the nation except in the South, where the rate stayed the lowest in the country. Blacks were less likely than other racial and ethnic groups to start using heroin.

Explore further: Heroin addicts have higher pain sensitivity, even during treatment

More information: The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about heroin.

Related Stories

Heroin addicts have higher pain sensitivity, even during treatment

April 25, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Heroin addicts often have an increased sensitivity to pain, and this sensitivity does not subside over the course of treatment with methadone or other opioids, new research finds.

Heroin availability increasing across Washington state

June 12, 2013
New data from the University of Washington's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute indicates increases in heroin availability, abuse and deaths across the state, particularly among young adults ages 18-29. These increases are ...

Rate of non-medical use of RX pain meds 4.6 percent

January 10, 2013
(HealthDay)—The rate of non-medical use of prescription pain relievers in the past year among individuals aged 12 years and older is estimated at 4.6 percent nationally, with considerable variation between states, according ...

Rising opiate and heroin abuse among young adults a public health epidemic

October 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Prescription pain killers – a leading cause of youth addiction and easily accessible in the family medicine cabinet – have caused an alarming rise in heroin abuse in New Jersey and throughout the nation ...

More opioid dependence treatment needed

August 6, 2013
A new report from Simon Fraser University researcher Bohdan Nosyk calls for the expansion of heroin and opioid medical treatment to stem the increase of overdose deaths.

Prescription overdose rate reaches epidemic levels in NYC

February 3, 2013
The rate of drug overdose from prescription opioids increased seven-fold in New York City over a 16-year period and was concentrated especially among white residents of the city, according to latest research at Columbia University's ...

Recommended for you

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

Price tag on gene therapy for rare form of blindness: $850K

January 3, 2018
A first-of-its kind genetic treatment for blindness will cost $850,000 per patient, making it one of the most expensive medicines in the world and raising questions about the affordability of a coming wave of similar gene-targeting ...

Restasis: Why US consumers paid billions for drug deemed ineffective in other countries

January 2, 2018
Why are Americans, both as patients and taxpayers, paying billions of dollars for a drug whose efficacy is so questionable that it's not approved in the European Union, Australia or New Zealand? Restasis, a blockbuster drug ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.