The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is just one of many agencies that have concluded that the opioid epidemic — which has grown to include heroin and fentanyl — originated with increase in the use of prescription opioids.
Since 1999, the CDC has reported, the sales have gone up for opioid painkillers such as oxycodone, with trade names of Oxycodone and Percocet, and hydrocodone, with trade names of Vicodin and Lortab.
“Since 1999,” the CDC wrote in evaluating drug-related deaths in 2015, “the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.”
The signs of opioid prescription drug abuse, according to the CDC and other sources, include loss of control, craving for the drugs and continued use of the drugs despite negative consequences.
The physical signs of opioid abuse include noticeable elation or euphoria, marked sedation or drowsiness, confusion, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, intermittent nodding off and constipation.
The CDC said that the strongest risk factor for heroin addiction is addiction to prescription opioid painkillers. When the legal and illegal supply of those drugs dwindle or become too expensive, addicts can turn to buying heroin and fentanyl more cheaply on the street.
The CDC has found that 45 percent of people who used heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.
According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, heroin “is diluted with other drugs or with sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine before injecting, smoking or snorting.” Heroin looks like a white or brownish powder and can also be black and sticky.
Evidence of heroin use includes drug paraphernalia, such as small glass or metal pipes, syringes, dirty spoons and lighters.
Physical symptoms of heroin use include euphoria, drowsiness, respiratory depression,…