Prescription Drug Abuse Opiates Thesis

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¶ … Abusing Opiates

Cost associated with Abuse

At times, the cost associated with abusing prescription pain killers, such as opiates, may seem minimal, as having a prescription filled in the quest to secure relief from pain may be small in the cost of dollars. When an individual becomes addicted to opiates, however, the associated cost dramatically increases. At times, along with being dishonest and denying the fact that one may in fact be addicted to opiates may cost much more than the addictive individual ever intended to pay. Abusing opiates may at times cost an individual his/her life - figuratively, or literally, as in the case of Anna Nichole Smith, when abusing opiates ultimately ended in premature death. In "As painkiller, methadone proves deadly," Eric Weslander (2007) reports concerns regarding opiate addiction, related by Dr. William McKnelly, of the Kansas City Metro Methadone Program. The current increase in legitimate use of these pain medications, according to McKnelly, "has paralleled... A rise in abuse of these drugs" (McKnelly, as cited in Weslander, 2007, Deaths rising section ¶ 7).

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In "Drug Testing. In Drug Treatment: What Works?," J.A. Carver (2004) presents numerous considerations relating to attempt to answer the question "what works" in the battle against addiction, as "mind-altering substances have the ability to elevate the level of a substance known as dopamine in the brain, which produces a sense of intense pleasure" (Carver, p. 146). In its quest to enhance the understanding of the cost relating to the addiction of opiates, this paper also addresses a number of considerations that accompanying the process when an addicted person's brain is "programmed to repeat pleasurable experiences and avoid unpleasant ones" (Carver, p. 146).

TOPIC: Thesis on Prescription Drug Abuse Opiates Assignment

The researcher contends that when a person becomes addicted to prescription painkillers, such as opiates, the related ramifications of abusing prescription drugs may not only drain him/her biological, psychological, and socially, but also adversely, often painfully affects those he/she interacts with during his/her time of addiction.

At times, even when an addicted individual may realize that his/her ingestion of opiates and/or other drugs may cost him/his/her life, the immediate pleasure or "necessary" relief from pain that the prescription painkiller provides may attribute to the user insisting that he/she is not addicted. he/she may even "convince" him/her self that his/her abuse of prescription painkillers, such as opiates, does not constitute a "real" problem. Prescription painkiller abusers may even initially believe they can abuse opiates without causing harm to him/her self. "As a result of the effect on the brain produced by drugs, [however,] the compulsion to repeat intensely pleasurable experiences, and the inherent denial of addicts that their drug use is causing problems, the lives of drug abusers tend to spiral out of control" (Carver, 2004, p. 146). Eventually, individuals who abuse opiates may reach a point in their lives when they "hit bottom." At this time, the opiate abuser may begin to realize that he/she cannot continue to "live" such a self-destructive lifestyle. Reaching this point frequently, albeit, comes with a high price. The opiate abuser's family may issue him/her an ultimatum; he/she may lose his/her job, or he/she may be arrested and incarcerated for a time. Each of these incidences, particularly an arrest, proffers an opportunity for the opiate abuser to begin to establish a framework of honesty and begin to be accountable, not only for his/her abuse, but for him/her self.

At this time, the healing process; the process of recovery may begin (Carver, 2004, p. 146).

The Start of Addiction

Weslander (2007) reports that between 1999 and 2002, Oxycodone prescriptions increased 50%, while physicians wrote approximately 60% more morphine prescriptions " the single-most prescribed drug nationwide is the painkiller hydrocodone, with more than 100 million prescriptions in 2005" (Journal of the American Medical Association, as cited in Weslander, 2007, Deaths rising section ¶ 5). Recently, in light of concerns related to methadone treatments, doctors have begun to shift from methadone as an addiction-treatment drug to an analgesic, or painkiller. Weslander stresses, however, in some incidences, methadone is included as one of a number of opiates increasingly being prescribed. Consequently, it needs to be determined "why the use of prescription opioids has increased so markedly over the course of the last several years (Deaths rising section ¶ 4). According to the American Medical Association, the increase of opiate prescriptions evolves from the increasing emphasis on pain treatment of pain. This trend is expected to continue as the age and population will suffer from more pain related to arthritis, cancer and back problems in future years (American Medical Association, as cited in Weslander, 2007, Deaths rising section ¶ 6). Toxicologists currently report the rapid increase of prescription drug abuse; which increased 21% from 2004 to 2005. The National Institute on Drug Abuse contends most misuse occurs in the following three classes of prescription drugs (Miami Herald, 2007):

Opioids, prescribed for pain, such as Vicodin.

Central nervous system depressants, prescribed to treat anxiety and sleeplessness, such as Valium. (Miami Herald, 2007)

Stimulants, prescribed to fight attention-deficit disorder, such as Ritalin.

A reported, contemporary alarming trend reveals young kids and teenagers are turning away from street drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, and replacing them with prescription drug use. One survey, noted by the Miami Herald (2007) found that during 2006, abuse of the painkiller, Vicodin, totaled 3% among eighth-graders, 7% among 10th-graders, and 9.7% among 12th-graders. Misuse of Ritalin, a stimulant with the proper target of attention-deficit disorder, remains steady, at 5% among 12th-graders. Of the 1.4 million trips to U.S. emergency rooms in 2005, approximately 27% of these related to drug overdoses. Despite the fact that most people taking prescription drugs, legally prescribed for them, may not believe that these drugs possess the potential to harm them, E.R. records confirm the contrary to be true. When the amount of a particular drug ceases to revive the same amount of relief as previously received, some individuals tend to increase the doses they'd take, without the consent of their doctors. This, in turn, frequently increases a person's chances of misuse, and to potentially overdose, a common story of the start of addiction (Miami Herald, 2007).

How Addicts Feel "It's hell" (McKnelly, as cited in Weslander, 2007, Biological dependency section, ¶ 2), Kerry McLay, a Lawrence substance-abuse counselor, states, regarding the process of being addicted to opiates. Trying to get off any opiates proves to be a horrific process, McKnelly stresses. The addicted individuals experiences extreme body aches and nausea. A majority of individuals have to be admitted to the hospital to be medically detoxed (Ibid.). McKnelly and his staff members report they have witnessed an increasing number of patients in recent years come to the methadone clinic hooked on prescription pills. According to McKnelly, "OxyContin -- which is often crushed into powder and snorted to bypass its time-release feature - [is] "the worst thing in the world" (Mcknelly, even Weslander. Deaths rising section ¶ 8).

As opiate addiction is a biological dependency, one cannot talk an addicted person out of his/her addiction. It would not matter if he/she were "MotherTeresa, or Rush Limbaugh or a junkie down here by the mission," McKnelly stresses. Other members of the community may do a number of things to help person withdrawing from opiates, however, one person cannot help another out of a biological dependency. (McKnelly, as cited in Weslander, 2007, Biological dependency section, ¶ 5).

Maintaining the Habit

The following writing: "The Psalm of the Addict," anonymously written anonymously, and recorded in the Congressional Record, July 31, 1971, could also depict the habit of opiate addiction:

King at Heroin [Opiate] is my shepherd, I shall always want.

He maketh me to lie down in the gutters.

He leadeth me beside the troubled waters.

He destroyeth my soul.

He leadeth me in the paths of wickedness for the effort's sake.

Yea, I shall walk through the valley of poverty and will fear all evil for thou, Heroin [Opiate], art with me.

Thy Needle and capsule try to comfort me.

Thou strippest the table of groceries in the presence of my family.

Thou robbest my head of reason.

My cup of sorrow runneth over.

Surely heroin [Opiate] addiction shall stalk me all the days of my life and will dwell in the House of the Damned forever. (Respectfully Quoted, 2003)

Getting Free

While the withdrawal from opiates may be an agonizing matter for some abusers, it does not prove to be an excruciating painful case for all. At its worst, opiate withdrawal may include a number of days when the abuser vomits, experiences diarrhea, shivers, sweats, has muscular twitches and suffers with severe cramp-like pains in both his/her abdomen and limbs. The rule for those withdrawing from opiates, however is severe insomnia. Insomnia is such that "there is no relief even at night" (Carver, 2004, p. 102). Even though drugs as clonidine or lofexidine may provide some relief during the withdrawal phase, many clinics only offer aspirin to the individual experiencing withdrawal from opiates. No… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Prescription Drug Abuse Opiates.  (2008, December 9).  Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Prescription Drug Abuse Opiates."  9 December 2008.  Web.  27 November 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Prescription Drug Abuse Opiates."  December 9, 2008.  Accessed November 27, 2021.