Although the Centers for Disease Control statistics should be shocking, many people are already aware of the opiate epidemic in the United States. In fact, many people are addicted to opiates, so the CDC’s numbers do not surprise. For centuries, people have tried to find ways to numb themselves against their personal pain, and although they should know better in the 21st century, there are just as many people combining alcohol and opioids as there were 100 years ago. Perhaps, even more. What’s behind this new/old addiction? Prescription drugs.

It’s Still Heroine

One of the major problems with this new/old epidemic is teenagers. Today’s teen isn’t getting high on marijuana, LSD, or Quaaludes. Today’s teenager is stealing pain medication out of his or her parents’ medicine cabinet, because what is in there is prescribed heroine. There’s no sense in candy coating this. Teenagers, and their parents for that matter, are becoming addicted to pain medication… all over again.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, “Prescription opioids are medications that are chemically similar to endorphins”; in other words, when you take these pills you feel really good. The base of these medications is derived from the same opium poppy plant from which heroin is derived. Prescription opioids include codeine, diphenoxylate, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and propoxyphene, and all are highly addictive.

Combining Pain Pills With Alcohol

For today’s teen, and many adults for that matter, the pain pills are not enough. As the addiction grows, one pill might not do the trick anymore. If the teenager is stealing the pills from the medicine cabinet, he or she cannot take too many; the risk of being caught is too great. Consequently, many teens combine opioids with alcohol, which take the deadly drug’s danger to even higher levels. Drinking side effects alone are bad enough; drinking and doing opiates increases the chance of death.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that rather than going down as one would expect, drug overdose deaths are on the rise. These ODs are linked directly to prescription medication. According to the CDC, “more than six out of ten” drug ODs are related to an opioid. Prescription drugs have quadrupled the number of drug-related deaths since 1999. Quadrupled. Americans should know better, but they don’t. More and more people are getting addicted to opioids.

When a person couples this deadly substance with alcohol, he or she is at greater risk. The side effects of combining alcohol and opioids include abnormal behavior, coma, dehydration, dizziness and fainting or passing out, irregular heartbeat, nausea and vomiting, severe changes in blood pressure, severe changes in blood sugar that can cause seizures, the inability to concentrate, and death. Look at how many celebrities have died from prescribed medication over the last few years.

Drinking excessively, even if it’s just binge drinking one night, is bad enough. Combining alcohol with opioids is deadly. So is becoming addicted to prescribed painkillers without the alcohol. This is an American epidemic that knows no demographic boundaries. If you have a problem or suspect your teen or someone else you love does, get help today. There might not be a tomorrow.


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