Drug abusers are not completely abandoning prescription opioids for heroin, according to School of Medicine researchers. Instead, many use the two concurrently based on their availability. The researchers’ findings also reveal regional variations in the use of heroin and prescription painkillers.
A reformulation of OxyContin (left) that makes it less likely to be abused than the older formulation (right) has curtailed the drug’s illicit use. But researchers at the School of Medicine have found that a significant percentage still abuse the drug despite package labeling that emphasizes its abuse-deterrent properties.
A nationwide survey of heroin users indicates they are attracted to the drug not only for the “high” but because it is less expensive and easier to get than prescription painkillers. Shown is the study’s principal investigator, Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, of the School of Medicine.
A change in the formula of a frequently abused prescription painkiller has many abusers switching to a drug that is potentially more dangerous, according to School of Medicine researchers. Since the formula change makes inhaling or injecting the opioid drug OxyContin more difficult, many users are switching to heroin.