Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Keep a close eye on your presciption use

Posted: Friday, March 20, 2015

A scary drug, heroin, is becoming more of a problem in our community. Data shows that heroin-related deaths have increased in all age groups, races and ethnicities all over the country, with the Midwest experiencing the biggest jump. Heroin-related deaths nearly tripled in the U.S. within just three years. The number of Hoosier teens using heroin is more than double the national average.

Why is heroin becoming such a problem? Heroin is readily available, relatively inexpensive and the user feels the effect of heroin within seconds of taking it, so it is highly addictive. It is the most abused and most rapid-acting opiate. Oftentimes, it starts with the use of prescription drugs. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that people who used pain pills non-medically were 19 times more likely to start using heroin.

In 2014, the CDC reported that physicians wrote 259 million painkiller prescriptions in a single year — the equivalent of a bottle of pills per American. A recent report showed that significantly more people over age 20 are using opioids. The number of people who used a painkiller stronger than morphine increased from 17% in the early 2000s to 37% about a decade later.

Teens use prescription drugs to get high, to focus better, and to fit in. Fifty-six percent of teens do not see a great risk in trying prescription pain relievers without a doctor’s prescription. They believe prescription drugs are safer than street drugs and not addictive.

Some people become addicted to prescription medications after taking them following a surgery or other medical procedure. After a period of time, they notice they don’t work as well or last as long, and begin taking more pills than prescribed. Once they run out and doctors won’t give them more or they become unaffordable, they may turn to another opiate — heroin.  Recently, a law enforcement officer told a story of a woman in her mid-20s who began using pain medication after childbirth in 2008. From 2008 to 2010, she was crushing pills to get high. However, at $60 per pill, it was becoming very expensive. She began snorting heroin in 2010, and injecting it in 2013. The heroin cost her $30-$40 per day. She was arrested in 2014.

What can be done? Keep prescription medicines in a secure place, count and monitor the number of pills, and lock up your medicine. Dispose of your unused and expired medicine properly; there are medication collection boxes at some law enforcement agencies. If you are a parent, talk to your kids about the risks of abusing prescription drugs. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who do not get that critical message at home. If you think your child has a problem with prescription drugs, parent specialists are available at the Parents Toll-Free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).

For more information, please visit us on Facebook at Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts - LACE.