Opiate painkillers more deadly than cocaine, permanently change brain

Opiate painkillers now kill more Americans than cocaine or heroin, reports this article in Harvard Mental Health Letter. Prescriptions for opiate drugs like OxyContin have increased tenfold in the U.S. since 1990 and the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nearly two million Americans were abusing prescription pain relievers – almost twice as many people as are addicted to cocaine.

Unlike other forms of pain management, opiates activate the pleasure receptors in the brain, causing euphoria and leading to a high likelihood of addiction. According to the article, this risk makes prescribing painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin for moderate pain controversial.

The article also reports that certain characteristics make a person predisposed to abuse, such as age (teenagers and young adults are more likely to become addicted) and a family history of addiction. Because opiate addiction creates long-term changes in the brain and users are prone to relapse, treatment for addiction is most successful when it is completed in two phases: detoxification from the painkillers, followed by a longer or indefinite maintenance phase.

About Dana Owens

Dana Owens is San Francisco-based writer, editor and blogger who works on diverse projects from holistic health research to record label promotion. In addition to lending her editorial eye to Oxy Watchdog, Dana also acts as copyeditor for 99 Series, Inc. and executive assistant/project coordinator for Heartline Productions.
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One Response to Opiate painkillers more deadly than cocaine, permanently change brain

  1. Today Is September 13,2012, This is The First moment when I Fully understood what I Have done. I Have Chronic,Moderate,to high pain that I have had treated for 7 Years in A “pain clinic”. I Have Been treated with High levels of Hydrocodone. As the years have passed, I have been increasingly unable to cope with Stress. I allowed this to continue because I Had problems with anxiety for many years, And Did not know that the incidents of Anxiety Could Be exasperated,or even Caused by The Medication.
    At this point, I have been having levels of anxiety,along with crippling panic attacks severe enough and occuring for long enough Now that I might not be able to return to
    School or work. Yesterday was my last Dr’ Appt’. I told him About my symptoms, and he wants me to start taking an m.o.a.,type medication for anxiety ,also continued use of zanax. I am angry that This professional never told me that the opoids could cause me possible permanent damage. I am going to educate myself further in this matter, and find what I am in for. Also there Is going to be definite Changes in how I deal with My Physical pain. Doctors should not be allowed to dispense opoid medication without Educating Patients, in Detail about all possible risks.

    I wonder what I am in for..

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