July 25, 2014

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Do efforts to crack down on prescription drug abuse drive users to heroin?

Nearly 80% of recent heroin initiates started by misusing prescriptions

By Tessie Castillo, The Fix

Let’s face it. Our country has a pill problem. Some blame our prescription addiction on an aging population of baby boomers with pain needs. Others point to the frantic pace of work and home obligations that make it easier to pop a capsule than to embrace lifestyle changes. The pharmaceutical industry’s aggressive marketing efforts to doctors and patients likely play a role. But however our affair with pills developed, the relationship has turned deadly. Prescription painkiller use has skyrocketed 300% over the past decade, and currently more than 12 million Americans take pain relievers simply to get high. Equally disturbing, the dramatic growth in the availability of prescription opiates has mirrored a surge in heroin use. Nearly 80% of recent heroin initiates now start by misusing prescriptions.