Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. and many other countries in the world. Every year, thousands are hospitalized or die from overdoses. For those who are addicted, job loss, financial ruin, and broken families are often some of the consequences of this powerful addiction. Part of the problem has been the ease with which prescription drugs can be obtained. Although regulations have tightened, it is still relatively easy to get prescriptions and get hooked. In recent years, the medical community, as well as lawmakers, have attempted to address this growing problem through various strategies.
In addition to awareness and stricter procedures when it comes to prescribing habit-forming medication, other measures have been taken to reduce the instances of dependence on prescription drugs. One of those measures has been the introduction of abuse-resistant painkillers.
A good example of this would be the abuse-deterrent OxyContin. This is a widely used and abused painkiller that is responsible for thousands of overdoses a year. With the abuse-resistant modifications, it is harder for people to use the drug for the purpose of getting high. The pill can’t be crushed, it just balls up. It can’t be mixed with water for IV use, it turns to a slimy texture. This means that people who are prescribed this drug will have difficulty smoking or injecting it, which are commonly preferred means of abuse. While these modifications don’t eliminate the risk of dependence and abuse, they are a deterrent.
Prescribing these type of painkillers does have its advantages. Because they are harder to use illicitly, they are less likely to be abused. For people who are still in the experimental stages of pain pill abuse, this may discourage use. Also, these pills are less likely to be bought and sold because they can’t be crushed or dissolved. This can mean fewer painkillers on the street. This does seem to have worked. When the pill was released in 2010, there was a significant drop in prescriptions for the drug, indicating that it was being sought out less by those who would abuse it.
What about recovering addicts who still need to take painkillers? Getting help from painkiller addiction when you still have a need for pain medication is challenging. For someone who has abused drugs in the past, needing medication is downright scary, but there are times it is necessary, such as when you have a procedure, or a chronic pain problem. It is often helpful to enlist the aid of a supportive, responsible person to hold and distribute your pills as directed. Getting abuse resistant painkillers can add a layer of protection, discouraging you from using them in ways not prescribed.
There are downsides to abuse resistant painkillers. These pills do not address the real problems of addiction. In fact, since the introduction of these modified pills, there has been an uptick in heroin use.
It is common for people who have become addicted to painkillers to turn to heroin when they are unable to obtain their prescription pills. This may be because they are unable to get more pills from the doctor, or because they can no longer afford to purchase their pills illegally. Heroin is often cheaper and easier to get. The arrival of abuse-resistant painkillers has only reinforced this.
Getting help from painkiller addiction requires a combination of detoxification, drug and alcohol treatment, and continued support. There is certainly a place for abuse-resistant painkillers. They discourage abuse and the illicit distribution of the drug on the streets. However, addiction to painkillers needs a multifaceted approach. They need to be harder to obtain from doctors and pharmacies, and for people who are addicted, real help needs to be available. Many people who have become addicted to not get that help, and continue to seek out painkillers and other drugs such as heroin. This leads to increasingly risky behavior that results in more health issues such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
Education and prevention should be the first line of defense. A good portion of the people currently abusing painkillers like OxyContin are teenagers who often are not aware of how easily they can become physically and psychologically dependent on opiates or the risks of overdose. Intervention and access to quality drug and alcohol rehab are another key to solving this problem. Too often, people are simply incarcerated without any treatment. They often continue using in jails or prisons, and then resume their using when they get out. Treatment can put an end to this vicious cycle.
If you or someone you love is struggling and needs help from painkiller addiction, Sound Recovery Solutions can help you get your life back. Painkiller addiction is like a prison, and you may feel like you are never going to be free. Sound Recovery Solutions can give you that freedom with a treatment program that offers you the tools you need to leave painkiller addiction behind. Call them today at 561-666-7427.