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Study links heroin use to habit of illicit drug use
Posted in Addiction

With opioids and heroin belonging to the same drug category and overlapping in various ways, an increasing number people suffering from opioid addiction invariably take to heroin use. A recent study, presented at the American Pain Society’s Scientific Summit, attempted to understand the relationship between the two drugs.

The researchers collected 171,061 urine samples of patients who were prescribed opioid therapy and found that 1.3 percent of the participants tested positive for heroin use. Further, heroin users were 12.8 times more likely to use cocaine while the odds of using tetrahydrocannabinol were 2.2 times higher. The researchers concluded that the heroin usage was highly associated with the use of other prohibited drugs. The samples were screened by Ameritox LLC, a Baltimore company specializing in urine drug screening and reporting services.

The study also found that four out of five heroin users started with prescription opioids. With time, the patients became tolerant and drifted toward heroin, as it was cheaper and pure forms of the drug were available. Unadulterated heroin provided a greater psychoactive high compared to only prescription medication.

Patients less likely to adhere to opioid therapy if on heroin

During the two-year-long study, the urine samples were screened for the presence of active metabolites of heroin. Individuals prescribed methadone, buprenorphine or morphine were excluded from the screening. Later, samples were also tested for phenycyclidine (PCP), THC, cocaine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones.

The researchers established that patients who screened positive for heroin were highly likely to be male, young and have Medicaid. The subjects also adhered to their prescribed opioid therapy, including sedatives and hypnotics, synthetic opioids, stimulants and opiates. It was observed that individuals on opioid therapy were 2.8 times less likely to be compliant to prescribed opiates or sedatives and hypnotics if they screened positive for heroin. In addition, heroin use was linked with 1.6 times higher odds of compliance to synthetic opioids. Compared to those who did not use heroin, users were highly likely to be tested for opioids, which were not prescribed.

Based on the results, the researchers suggested that when looking for opioid or drug abuse, patients should not be tested for single drugs. A complete drug profile should be administered to determine their levels of abuse. The team wants to conduct further research to analyze the use of drugs beyond cocaine, cannabis and heroin for patients on opioid therapy.

Heroin addiction can be treated

Heroin is an addiction-forming substance with a potential to cause severe physical and psychological dependence. Categorized as a Schedule I drug, when it reaches the brain, it causes a dopamine rush which activates the reward center of the brain. Thus, one gets obsessed about arranging the drug, neglecting his or her health, relationships, work, social life and even finances, in the process. According to a 2016 government survey, the number of users of heroin in the U.S. jumped from 404,000 in 2002 to 948,000 in 2016.

Since heroin causes extreme withdrawal symptoms, it is indispensable to seek treatment from trained professionals. Sovereign Health of Texas empathizes with people grappling with an addiction to the drug. Our customized heroin abuse treatment programs are designed to treat an individual holistically. If you or your loved one is battling a heroin addiction, call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives to know more about our treatment for heroin addiction.

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