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War against prescription drug abuse may have fueled heroin use

Some in the field of drug addiction are saying the U.S. government's fight against prescription drug abuse may be causing the rise in heroin use.

Heroin use rise may be fueled by fight against prescription drug abuse
Michael Velardo

The crack down on pill mills, and making prescription narcotics harder to access is fueling the switch to heroin use. Compounding the problem is prescription drugs are costly, especially when a person becomes addicted, and needs more of the drug to produce the same effect. Heroin, the quality of which has increased, is much cheaper than prescription opiates.

"State and federal officials have pressed their campaign against prescription drug abuse with urgency, trying to contain a scourge that kills more than 16,000 people each year. The crackdown has helped reduce the illegal use of some medications and raised awareness of their dangers," according to The Washington Post.

The heroin problem nationwide has been gaining greater scrutiny, and the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from heroin, and other drugs has increased the focus even more.

"Between 2007 and 2012, heroin use rose 79 percent nationwide, according to federal data. Within the same period, the data show, 81 percent of first-time heroin users had previously abused prescription drugs," reported The Washington Post.

What is the answer? There may not be one, at least for the supply side of it. As long as there are drugs you

"Not everyone agrees that the crackdown on prescription drug abuse has led to the rise in heroin use. Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who runs the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control, told the newspaper, “I don’t think one thing has anything to do with the other.” He noted many lives have been saved by the effort to reduce prescription drug abuse," reported

Harm reduction can save people, however, and with opiates there is naloxone available to be administered in hospitals, and if it was made more widely available for lay people to access, they could use it in case of an overdose.


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"One person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose in the United States and that trend is being driven by prescription (Rx) painkillers." (

If you or a loved one needs help with any type of drug abuse/addiction problem, contact these sites depending on where you live. SEMCA (Wayne County residents), CARE (Macomb County residents), PACE (Oakland County residents), Drug Free Detroit (City of Detroit residents). For those residing outside the State of Michigan, contact SAMHSA for assistance. For assistance with medical marijuana issues contact The Michigan Medical Marijuana Association, Michigan Medical Marijuana Certification Center, or, phone number: (313) 967-9999, or (248) 677-2888.

Substance abuse and mental health treatment locator here: SAMSHA

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