There is a lot of concern among doctors, law enforcement, and government officials in Canada and the USA that prescription painkillers lead to prescription drug abuse, and this then leads to heroin abuse and addiction. In the United States prescription drug abuse is a very serious problem, and it is more prevalent than heroin abuse and addiction. Many in both countries are calling prescription painkillers gateway drugs which eventually lead the user down the path of heroin abuse and addiction. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy posted a blog right after the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose that read in part “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we’ve seen roughly a 20 percent increase in overdose deaths involving prescription painkillers since 2006. In 2010, there were over 16,000 drug poisoning deaths involving prescription painkillers. There were about 3,000 drug poisoning death involving heroin that same year.”
According to Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Dr. Wilson Compton “The pathway appears to be now moving from the prescription drugs to heroin, a very dangerous development.” Many who experience heroin abuse and addiction start out with prescription medications, but over time the prescription drug abuse gets harder to maintain as physicians stop prescribing. The individual often turns to heroin abuse because heroin is an opioid just like many prescription painkillers, and the drug acts on the brain in the same ways. Heroin is purchased when the desired prescription medications can not be accessed, and this eads to heroin abuse and addiction.