Prior Substance Abuse Linked To Opioid Abuse In Young Men

A recent study by Yale University School of Medicine shows that alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana play a big role in the abuse of opioids later on. This is particularly true in young men, aged 18 to 25. The study went on to say that those who had used marijuana were 2.5 times more inclined to abuse prescription opioids.

This may be because the casual marijuana smoker is looking for another way to get high. Maybe one that is a little easier to get. After all, prescription drugs aren’t very hard to come by. In fact, most young adults have access to prescribed drugs right in their own homes. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that over 70 percent of people that were abusing prescription pain relievers had gotten them from friends or relatives, as oppose to the 5 percent who got them from a drug dealer or over the Internet.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are used to treat acute pain and include such prescription drugs as morphine, methadone, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Opioids stimulate the areas of the brain that receive pleasure and in turn produce a sense of well-being and euphoria. Repeated use of these types of drugs begin to overwhelm the system with dopamine and, in time, the body thinks it needs the drug in order to survive and this is how addiction begins.
The use of opioids to treat pain dates back to before recorded history, with the use of the opium poppy for its therapeutic benefits. Many people become addicted to opioid painkillers after being prescribed this type of medication for an injury or to manage the pain after an operation. There is also the misconception that they are safe to abuse because they have been prescribed by a doctor.

Actually, long-term abuse of opioids can cause slowed brain function, drowsiness, constipation and depressed breathing. Even more dangerous is the risk of death from combining these drugs with other depressants such as alcohol.

Proof That Marijuana Is A Gateway To Opioid Abuse In Young Men

As if we needed more proof that marijuana is a major gateway drug, this study validates that theory. Many drug addicts admit that they first began their drug use with marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, someone who smokes marijuana is more that 104 times more likely to use cocaine than someone who has never tried pot.

Whether a person blames peer pressure or just plain curiosity, the best remedy to this epidemic is education. Kids need to know the dangers of using marijuana such as dependency and the potential of its use leading to the use of other harder drugs, which pose an even higher dependency potential. Through educating people, especially the younger generation, we can hope to cut back on the amount of kids trying marijuana in the first place. This will, in turn, reduce the amount of young adults moving on to other drugs such as opioids or worse.

The organization reports that those who received drug prevention lectures through their worldwide program were less likely to use drugs in the first place. This validates the fact that utilizing prevention and educational mechanisms early in life can lead to success later with saying no to drugs.

Because of the current problem there are also those who have fallen into the trap of addiction. To remedy this, they need immediate treatment, followed by education to change the course of their drug using behavior.

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