Pain pills are a bigger problem than marijuana

As more states, including Louisiana, start discussing the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational purposes, those against the idea are loudly crying that marijuana is the cause of this country’s drug problem, acting as the “gateway” drug.

Those people do not realize how easy it is to obtain prescription painkillers, which are slowly claiming more and more lives, and leading survivors down a path to even harder drugs.

In fact, federal drug officials said Tuesday that painkillers could be the gateway drug for most heroin users – and opiates and marijuana are two very different things.

The Center for Disease Control reports that there has been a 20 percent increase in overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers since 2006. In 2010, there were over 16,000 drug poisoning deaths involving the pills, and 3,000 heroin deaths as well.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that most heroin users seem to get their start via prescription pain drugs. That’s because the prescriptions and heroin have a lot in common.

Opioid prescription painkillers have the same effect on the brain and body as heroin does – causing physical addiction. Overdoses most often send victims into a coma, slowing heartbeat and breathing to the point of death. Though only four percent of the prescription painkiller crowd is heading toward heroin, heroin use is on the rise. In 2002, 122,000 people used heroin. The number rose to 272,000 in 2012.

In fact, overdoses have become so common, the White House is pressing state and local authorities to equip first responders with a drug called naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

While locals might think heroin is not easily obtainable in Jeff Davis and Acadia parishes, its alternative is. It is relatively easy to go into an emergency room or doctor’s office and complain of non-existent pains then walk out with a prescription. “Doctor shopping” in major cities is as easy as taking candy from a baby, because many pain management clinics make their money off of addicts.

And even if a person cannot obtain a prescription, pills are easily found on the streets. Consider Monday’s arrest of a Jennings man who was found to be in possession of 77 Roxicodone tablets, commonly referred to among users as “roxies.” Roxies are one of the most powerful prescription painkillers available in tablet form. In fact, roxies are such a hot commodity that police estimate the pills sell for anywhere from $30-$40 a piece on the street. Highly addictive, roxie users seldom take one without going back for more.

People might fear marijuana legalization, but they should fear what is already legal and creating and claiming more addicts each day.

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Posted by on Feb 13 2014. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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