Next Progression Of Prescription Addiction Is Heroin Abuse

prescription drugs and heroin

In recent years, prescription drug abuse has skyrocketed. Products like Percocet, Vicodin, and Oxycontin have been leading users down a darker path than they ever imagined. The most recent fork in the road has led them to heroin use—a place many users swore they would never go—for the plain and simple fact that it is cheaper.

The Dark Side Of Prescription Drugs

Prescription opioids are very addictive, particularly when used incorrectly or over long periods of time. One of the most dangerous things about these drugs is that addiction creeps up on you, grabbing hold when you least expect it. Many people don’t know they’re addicted until they try to stop using them.

Opioid tolerance is when the body gets used to having the drugs in the system, so much so that it requires more drugs to produce the same effects. Signs of opioid tolerance include symptoms that are similar to that of illness, but this condition is called “dope sick”. This includes:

  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Runny nose/congestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

Eventually, opioid tolerance can turn into addiction when the user finds himself craving the drug, feeling depressed or anxious when not on the drugs, and noticing that his life suddenly revolves around the drug. Cost and consequences no longer matter–all that seems to be important is how to get more drugs.

The symptoms of opioid abuse include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Appearing unbalanced and clumsy
  • Slurred speech
  • Nodding off or being unable to keep the eyes open
  • Contracted pupils

Understanding the symptoms of opioid addiction may save your life. When caught up in full-blown addiction, there are only two ultimate results: death, or withdrawal and rehabilitation.

Why Do So Many End Up On Heroin

For those hooked on prescription pain meds, six or seven pills lasts about a day. Sell those pills, though, and you can get yourself a gram of heroin for the same amount. That gram could last you six or seven days.

Heroin is another opioid, a synthesized offshoot of morphine. It is sold as a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance, and it is typically injected–although it can also be snorted or smoked. Anything to get it quickly to the brain, where it produces the same effects as prescription opioid–euphoria, numbness, and clouded mental capacity.

Heroin abuse causes serious health problems. Chronic users may experience collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. There is a risk of HIV/AIDS if users share needles–and anyone who has been addicted to heroin knows that you don’t care about clean needles when you’re aching for your next fix. There is also a high risk of fatal overdose.

Someone addicted to heroin will experience severe withdrawal symptoms if he reduces or stops using the drug abruptly. The symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goosebumps
  • Kicking movements
  • Severe craving, usually leading to relapse

Withdrawal typically peaks between 48 and 72 hours after the last use, and it usually subsides after one week although in some cases it can continue for months. This occurs as the individual will continue to have physical cravings for the drug long after they stop taking it.

The Narconon program includes a step that helps remove drug residues from the fatty tissue of the body, thereby reducing the likelihood of long-term withdrawal. For more information on this procedure for overcoming a prescription or heroin addiction contact us today.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.