Addictions grow slowly and elusively, and it is hard to spot one growing in someone, at least initially. Then problems begin to start, and get worse, and the addiction starts to take over the life of the addict.
The last person who seems to know that there is an addiction going on, it seems, is the addict themselves. This is especially true for someone who is abusing prescription medications, be they painkillers like Vicodin or Valium, or stimulants like Ritalin.
Prescription drugs such as painkillers and stimulants are the most abused substance in our society today. It has been estimated that in the United States alone, more than 15 million people abuse prescription drugs, more than the combined number who reported abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants (such as meth or crack cocaine) and heroin.
It has also been estimated that every day within the United States, youth aged from 12 to 17 abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. In 2006, roughly 2.6 million people abused a prescription drug for the first time. In 2007, a survey in the US found that 3.3% of 12- to 17-year-olds and 6% of 17- to 25-year-olds had abused prescription drugs in the past month. Where have these youth gotten these drugs from? Most likely from home.
Prescription drugs also do cause their fair share of deaths within our country- it causes the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdoses in the country. Of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2005, just opioid painkillers, such as Dilaudid, fentanyl, Vicodin, forms of morphine, and OxyContin were the most commonly found drug, accounting for 38.2% of these deaths.
Drugs Most Responsible For Overdose Deaths
Depressants, opioids and antidepressants are responsible for more overdose deaths (45%) than cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and amphetamines (39%) combined. Of the 1.4 million drug-related emergency room admissions in 2005, 598,542 were associated with abuse of pharmaceuticals alone or with other drugs.
As it can happen with drugs, once someone gets hooked on one, they could get bored of it and start to wander out into the realm of other substances. Prescription drugs can be considered a gateway drug because of the fact that a tolerance builds to them.
If someone doesn’t take more and more to produce the same effect, leading to the strong possibility of an overdose, but instead goes into the realm of other drugs, the possibility of leading to something far more lethal is a dangerous and strong one.
The Danger Of Building A Tolerance
When someone gets used to a certain drug, they think that, hey, if Vicodin can do what it does and is “lesser” than something like heroin, then what can heroin do? And thus starts the dangerous spiral downwards into the realm of harder and harder drugs. This kind of escalation is what leads people to try harder drugs like heroin or cocaine, and then get hooked on them.
It is rare for someone to never have had a drug in their life and then go straight into something like heroin, but instead start out “small” with something like marijuana or painkillers. Once those are “used up” and they get bored of them, then comes the next drug, and then the drug after that, leading eventually to the hardest drugs of all, like heroin.
The deadly effects of heroin are well known. There is no such thing as someone who “recreationally sues” heroin from time to time. It is almost instantaneously addictive, and someone who uses it often will start to have the veins in area wherein the heroin is injected to start to fall apart. This can lead to abscesses, which then get infected and might lead to the scenario where an arm or a foot has to get amputated.
So be wary when taking pharmaceutical painkillers, even if they are prescribed to you. People get hooked very easily and feel that, due to a building tolerance, they are not doing the work they need to do and the pain is still there, maybe even growing worse.
This is a tolerance building, so be wary. Painkiller addiction can escalate to something worse, starting a deadly spiral downwards into oblivion.