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Friday, April 18, 2014

Prescription Opioid Users Make Heroin Switch

English: Naloxone HCl preparation, pre-filled ...
The prescription opioid scourge that has swept across urban America has had a devastating cost. More people are losing their lives to opiate drugs than ever before; this has prompted many law enforcement officials to head to Washington D.C. to work out some possible solutions, according to USA Today.

Acquiring prescription opioids without a prescription can be very expensive, which has caused many to switch to more potent heroin. In fact, heroin is cheaper ($4 and $20 per bag) and stronger than most prescription opioids. Many who made the switch from prescription drugs to heroin lost their lives due to overdoses; most are unaware of the heightened chance of overdose that comes with heroin.

“The consciousness of the nation has not really focused on the problem. People saw this more as a state and local problem. …This is truly a national problem. Standing by itself, the heroin problem is worthy of our national attention,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to law enforcement officials.

The prescription drug epidemic has fueled the demand for heroin, the National Drug Threat Assessment, a government report, found that between 2009 and 2013, heroin seizures increased 87 percent, and the average size of the seizures increased 81 percent. 730 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in New York City in 2012, almost double the number of homicides, the article notes.

Prescription opioids and heroin are not going anywhere, the demand is too high and the supply is even greater. However, overdose deaths can be prevented by safe use education programs in conjunction with readily available Narcan (naloxone). Many lives have already been saved in communities that provide addicts and their loved ones access to naloxone, it stands to reason that every community that has seen a rise in overdoses could benefit from the overdose antidote naloxone.

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