The relationship between nonmedical use of opioid pain relievers and increases in heroin use in the U.S. is under scrutiny. Specifically, there is a concern that the increase in heroin-related overdoses may be an unintended consequence of reducing the availability of prescription opioids. Currently available research demonstrates:
- Prescription opioid use is a risk factor for heroin use.
- Heroin use is rare in prescription drug users.
- Rx opioids and heroin have similar effects, different risk factors.
- A subset of users may naturally progress from Rx opioids to heroin.
- Increased drug availability is associated with increased use and overdose.
- Heroin use is driven by its low cost and high availability.
- Emphasis is needed on both prevention and treatment.
- The increase in heroin use predates prescription drug policy changes
Source: DrugAbuse.gov – October 2015