The number of young adults who abuse prescription drugs is dwindling, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
However, a press release reported that the survey also showed heroin use is on the rise. In 2007, the number of people ages 12 and older who used heroin in the last year was 373,000, but that number grew in 2012 to 669,000.
Experts don’t think this is a coincidence. In fact, people who abuse prescription drugs could very well be transitioning over to the cheaper, more accessible drug heroin.
Deni Carise, deputy chief clinical officer at CRC Health Group, said in an email that she sees the transition between prescription drugs and heroin with young adults specifically. Many do these drugs with friends and then get addicted.
Carise provides some physical signs of heroin addiction:
1) “Constricted (small) pupils.”
2) “Dry mouth.”
3) “Shortness of breath.”
4) “Sudden changes in behavior or actions.”
6) “Droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy.”
7) “Runny nose (not explained by other illness or medical condition.”
8) “Needle track marks visible on arms.”
9) “Infections or abscesses at injection site.”
Here are some psychological symptoms:
1) “Lack of motivation; inability to focus, appearing lethargic or ‘spaced out.’”
2) “Appearing fearful, withdrawn, anxious, or paranoid, with no apparent reason.”
3) “Sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts or laughing at nothing.”
4) “Unexplained change in personality or attitude.”
5) “Periods of unusual hyperactivity or agitation.”
Dr. Kim Dennis, the medical director and CEO of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, said in an email that currently there is a prescription drug abuse epidemic. And when people who are dependent on opiates like morphine run out of drugs due to harsher enforcement, they turn to the next alternative: heroin.