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Prescription pain pills all too often lead to heroin abuse

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2021 | Drug Charges

Many people struggling with addiction developed a chemical dependence because of their health. They had a serious medical issue or injury, and their doctor prescribed them opioid painkillers.

The unfortunate truth is that those who need prescription pain management are 19 times more likely to develop a heroin addiction than a member of the general public. People take medication because they have real pain issues and they trust their doctor. Then, they find that they can’t stop.

How can a hard-working professional or family-oriented adult find themselves abusing heroin in the middle of their life?

Physicians fail to work with patients ending pain relief

Inadequate pain management options other than narcotic prescription medications are one way that the modern medical industry contributes to opioid and heroin addiction. People have no other options to rely on beyond much weaker over-the-counter options.

Another way medical professionals contribute to addiction is by prescribing addictive substances and then ignoring the impact that medication has on a patient. They will expect patients to stop taking the prescription after a few weeks or maybe a couple of months, even if there are still issues with pain.

Many doctors fail to properly work with patients tapering off of pain relief or provide them with enough support after ending a narcotic prescription. The result is that those patients still have unmanaged pain and possibly a sense of chemical dependence.

These patients, denied a valid prescription to help their symptoms, will turn to the unregulated market for pills. However, the supply of medication on the unregulated market is unpredictable. Eventually, someone may have no choice other than to substitute heroin for the painkillers that have helped them manage their symptoms and get through daily life. The only other option is to go without, which means withdrawal. 

Treating addiction like a crime doesn’t help

Rather than supporting and working with those struggling to transition away from narcotic pain relief, the government’s approach has been to criminalize desperate attempts to self-medicate and to avoid the pains of withdrawal.

Someone who became dependent on pain relief after a car crash might eventually get arrested for a drug crime. Although medical use will likely not be a workable defense, there are many defense options available. From challenging the evidence the state has against you to seeking adjudication in the drug court, you may have many options for responding to criminal charges that result from an addiction. Exploring those options can help people fight back against pending drug charges.