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What Is Prescription Painkiller Diversion and Why Is It Dangerous?

What Is Prescription Painkiller Diversion and Why Is It Dangerous?According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), diversion is the use of prescription drugs for recreational purposes. A person who is abusing prescription painkillers often takes larger doses to achieve a euphoric effect and reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, these larger doses can cause breathing to slow down so much that it stops, resulting in a fatal overdose.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports the following problems:

  • Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled since 1990
  • Drug overdose death rates have never been higher in the history of our country
  • In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths were caused by prescription drugs
  • 100 people die from drug overdoses every day in the United States
  • Prescription drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined
  • More than 12 million people reported using prescription painkillers non-medically in 2010, that is, using them without a prescription or for a high; that is nearly 5,500 cases of abuse per day

How Are Prescription Painkillers Diverted?

While many people believe that prescription drugs were obtained as a result of pharmacy theft, the reality is that most prescription drugs involved in overdoses were originally prescribed by a physician. Once these medications are prescribed and properly dispensed, they are often diverted through very common channels, such as the following:

  • Many households keep their prescribed medications in a cabinet that is easily accessible by all family members
  • People who are taking the prescribed medication reveal some of the side effects such as euphoria, and friends or colleagues want to achieve those results, so they take a medication that is prescribed to someone else

These practices make diversion quite easy.

What Are the Risks of Prescription Painkiller Diversion?

The most significant risk of prescription painkiller diversion is overdose. The second most serious area of concern is addiction. When a person uses another person’s medication for recreational purposes only, there are underlying issues that encourage him to alter reality. This is one of the warning signs of addiction. Another risk is that you do not know exactly what the prescription will do to you the first time you take it. For example, a prescription painkiller that was prescribed for an adult male over 200 pounds is going to have a much more significant action on a female teen of 100 pounds.

Who is at Risk for Prescription Painkiller Diversion?

The Center for Disease Control investigates the various populations that are vulnerable to prescription drug abuse and overdose. According to them, people who take the following actions are susceptible to drug abuse:

  • Doctor shopping; meaning that they get prescriptions from multiple providers
  • Daily taking high dosages of prescription painkillers
  • Taking prescription painkillers more often than recommended
  • Combine a prescription medication with other drugs or alcohol
  • People insured by Medicaid are prescribed painkillers at twice the rate of non-Medicaid patients, and are at six times the risk of prescription painkillers overdose
  • Those with a mental illness and/or a history of substance abuse

Treatment for Prescription Painkiller Addiction

If you seek treatment for prescription painkiller addiction, we can help. We can answer your questions, explore your options, find out about your insurance coverage, and provide insight into programs and services. So please call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about addiction treatment. We are here to help.

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