Painkillers Could Be New 'Gateway' Drugs
medicines are the way that many drug addicts first get hooked, making these
legal medicines the new "gateway" drugs, new study findings show.
University at Buffalo researchers interviewed 75 patients hospitalized for
opioid detoxification and found that 31 of them said they first became addicted
to legitimately prescribed painkillers.
24 patients said their addiction began when they used a friend's left-over
prescription pills or stole drugs from a parent's medicine cabinet, while
the remaining 20 patients said they got hooked on street drugs.
the study found that 92 percent of the patients said they eventually bought
illegal drugs (usually heroin) because street drugs are less expensive and
more effective than prescription drugs. Their reasons for continuing to
use drugs included to feel "normal," to feel "like a better
person" or to ease emotional pain and stress.
are seeing an increase in the number of patients addicted to prescription
drugs, so we wanted to better understand how they first got hooked,"
study senior author Dr. Richard Blondell, a professor of family medicine,
said in a University at Buffalo news release.
information suggests that there is a progressive nature to opioid use, and
that prescription opioids can be the gateway to illicit drug addiction.
It also tells us that people who use prescriptions illegally may be at greater
risk for subsequent heroin use than those who use prescriptions legally."
study was published recently in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about drug abuse and addiction.