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Opiates Statistics and Effects

Opioids

In the 1990s, the abuse of opioid pain killers was lower than other drugs. U.S. Poison Control Centers reported 36,848 toxic exposures in 1998, with 1227 of those being “major” and 161 resulting in death.

This picture has changed, however. The 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that 3,000,000 people over the age of 11 had tried OxyContin – just one of the opioid pain killers – for a nonmedical purpose. Approximately 3,100,000 people over 11 had tried heroin at least once.

The 2006 Monitoring the Future Study revealed these figures for opiod use in 2005 by teens. It includes heroin; oxycodone, marketed as OxyContin®; and hydrocodone, marketed as Vicodin® as well:

Nonmedical Use of Various Opiates by Students for Year 2005

 

Grade

OxyContin®

Vicodin®

Heroin

8th grade

1.8%

2.6%

0.8%

10th grade

3.2%

5.9%

0.9%

12th grade

5.5%

9.5%

0.8%

The use of opioids depends to a certain extent on the particular drug in question.

  • OxyContin, available as a time-release tablet, may be crushed and ingested or snorted.
  • Heroin, which is usually a powder, but also available in a sticky tar-like form or in a solid form, is injected, smoked, sniffed, or snorted.
  • Hydrocodone, the most prescribed opiate in the U.S., is available in pills of different sizes, and is reportedly most often abused orally and particularly in combination with alcohol.
  • Fentanyl provides an opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine in three ways: as transdermal patches, as oral transmucosal lozenges (known as lollipops on the street), and as injections. In illicit use, both the injectable and oral form are used as expected, but the patches are used in a variety of ways:
    • removing the contents to inject or ingest them
    • freezing and dividing the patch in order to place it into the mouth for slow absorption
  • Hydromorphone, a synthetic derivative of morphine, is available as injectables, in vials, as tablets, and in suppositories, as well as in an extended release form. It is used legally as an alternative to OxyContin® It was more popular for illegal use before hydrocodone and oxycodone became popular, and was often taken illegally in low dose, immediate release form.

Opioids carry the risk of addiction, which is why they are “scheduled” drugs. They are abused both in overdoses when prescribed and used outside of prescriptions to get high, often accompanied with alcohol.

Sought effects include:

  • euphoria
  • pain-killing properties
  • reduced anxiety
  • relaxation

Unsought effects include:

  • addiction
  • overdose

Opiates Statistics and Effects Sources

  • emedicine.com
  • whitehousedrugpolicy.gov
  • latimes.com
  • deadiversion.usdoj.gov

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