A growing number of people who abuse prescription painkillers are turning to heroin in the United States, according to a recent study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.
The study showed that people between ages 18 and 49 years old who abuse painkillers are much more likely (19 times) to turn to heroine over time. Furthermore, statistics show that four out of five new heroin users, about 80 percent, have previously used prescription pain relievers illegally.
“It suggests people who used prescription pain relievers are more likely to use heroin over time,” Dr. Peter Delany, director of the SAMHSA's Center for Behavior Health Statistics and Quality, said in a report by petoskeynews.com.
There were an estimated 620,000 users of heroine in the United States in 2011. However, those numbers have steadily increased from 373,000 in 2007.
One hypothesis for the reason people abusing painkillers are turning to heroine is that painkillers are become more difficult to acquire.
“Prescription pain killers and heroin work the same parts of the brain, so you're more likely use similar drugs to the one you are using,” Delany said.