Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs. They interfere with the transmission of nerve signals that perceive pain. They also produce a euphoric effect that is associated with a “high” feeling. The most powerful of these prescription drugs are called opioids. Some common names of prescription opioids are Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Lorcet, Lortab, Percocet, Vicodin. They are all narcotics and highly addictive.
Use of prescription painkillers can lead to physical dependence (addiction). The body adapts to the presence of the chemical and if a person stops taking the drug abruptly, withdrawal symptoms occur. Additionally, the body can build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning that it takes more of the chemical to achieve the desired effects. Many heroin users didn’t start with heroin, their addiction journey started with prescription narcotics. More often than not, a person addicted to prescription opiates switch to heroin because heroin is cheaper and easier to get. Last year at Harbor Hall 37.34% of admissions identified Prescription Opiates as the primary drug of choice with 12.65% Heroin as the primary drug of choice. Alcohol fell to number 2 for the first time ever at 37% of all admissions.
Some common misconceptions about prescription opiates:
Myth: “These drugs are “safe and OK to use, because a doctor prescribes them.”
Fact: There are regulations that controls who can prescribe these drugs and when. The reason is to protect the public because they are not always safe to use.
Myth: “They helped my friend’s pain. There is nothing wrong with me borrowing a few to help my pain.”
Fact: By sharing a medication prescribed for someone else, you may actually be worsening a health condition. Also, it is illegal to take medications prescribed for someone else.
Myth: “It’s no big deal.”
Fact: It is important to know that even a single use can be dangerous. Use can lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Myth: “If a little bit helps make me feel good than more will make me feel even better.”
Fact: The physician prescribes the right amount to help you. Taking more can increase the potential for side effects and can be dangerous even deadly.
The bottom line is that prescription opiate addiction is rising at an alarming rate.
If you have prescription narcotics in your home, there are some common sense things that you can do to keep them safe:
- Always keep your prescription narcotics under lock and key.
- Do not keep them where children and teens can get at them.
- Talk to your teens about prescription drug abuse.