Prescription for Pain a Gateway to Heroin

BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 21 (UPI) — About one-third of patients hospitalized for opioid detoxification say they first got hooked on drugs prescribed for pain, U.S. researchers found.

Senior author Dr. Richard Blondell, a professor of family medicine at the University at Buffalo, says of the 75 patients involved in the study, 24 began with a friend’s leftover prescription pills or with pills pilfered from a medicine cabinet, while 20 patients said they got hooked on street drugs.


The study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found 92 percent of the patients studied said they eventually bought drugs off the street — primarily heroin — because it is less expensive and more effective than prescription drugs using drugs.

The patients say they continued to use the drugs because it:

– Helped take away my emotional pain and stress.

– Helped them feel normal.

– Helped them feel like a better person.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of patients addicted to prescriptions drugs so we wanted to better understand how they first got hooked,” Blondell says in a statement. “This information suggests that there is a progressive nature to opioid use, and that prescription opioids can be the gateway to illicit drug addiction.”

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