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Heroin

Prescription Opioid Abuse: A First Step to Heroin Use?

Prescription opioid pain medications such as Oxycontin and Vicodin can have effects similar to heroin when taken in doses or in ways other than prescribed, and they are currently among the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. Research now suggests that abuse of these drugs may open the door to heroin abuse.

Heroin

Offers the latest scientific information on heroin use and its consequences as well as treatment options available for those struggling with heroin addiction. 

Published: October 1997
Revised: February 2014

NIH system to monitor emerging drug trends

An innovative National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) is being developed to monitor emerging trends that will help health experts respond quickly to potential outbreaks of illicit drugs such as heroin and to identify increased use of designer synthetic compounds.


What Can We Do About the Heroin Overdose Epidemic?

A striking new dimension of our nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic is the escalating number of deaths from heroin overdose. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4,102 people died as an unintended consequence of heroin overdoses in 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), compared to 2,789 deaths in 2010—a 47 percent increase in a single year.

Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.

Marijuana Use May Promote Nicotine Consumption

Exposing rats to THC increases the likelihood that the animals will later self-administer nicotine. THC-exposed rats are also willing to work harder to obtain nicotine. When extrapolated to people, the findings suggest that THC’s pharmacological impact on the brain may make a person who uses marijuana more vulnerable to developing nicotine addiction, an underappreciated health consequence of marijuana use.

In Nationwide Survey, More Students Use Marijuana, Fewer Use Other Drugs

Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.

Knowing When to Say When: Transitioning Patients from Opioid Therapy

Summary

Uses a case study to teach when and how to taper and/or transition patients off opioid-based medications in primary care settings

Resource Materials

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Naloxone—A Potential Lifesaver

Combating the epidemic of opioid abuse—including prescription painkillers and, increasingly, heroin—requires a multi-pronged approach that involves reducing drug diversion, expanding delivery of existing treatments (including medication-assisted treatments), and development of new medications for pain that can augment our existing treatment arsenal. But another crucial component we must not forget is that people who abuse or are addicted to opioids need to be kept alive long enough that they can be treated successfully. In this, the drug naloxone has a large potential role to play.

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