Ohio Report: Rise in Opioid Prescriptions May be Leading to Spike in Heroin Use

An increase in heroin use in Ohio in the past six months is due partly to the rise in addiction to opioid medication, according to a new report by the Ohio Department of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Services. The report says that people who become addicted to opioids may turn to heroin when they can no longer afford the pills. People interviewed for the report said heroin is easy to obtain and inexpensive.

The report suggests that the increase in heroin use may be due to the reformulation of the painkiller OxyContin, The Dayton Daily News reports. The new formula, which becomes a gel instead of a powder when it is crushed, was designed to make it more difficult to snort or inject. But the article notes that people who abuse the drug have found alternate ways to use the gel, including freezing it and then chopping it or using water to loosen up the protective coating.

According to the article, Ohio physicians and pharmacies can use the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System to track patients who go from doctor to doctor trying to get opioid prescriptions. But the system is voluntary, and only about 17 percent of doctors and 23 percent of pharmacists use it, Robert Masone, a Pain Specialist and President of the Ohio Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, told the newspaper.

In April, Ohio Governor John R. Kasich announced $36 million in new drug treatment and work readiness funds. The funds are designed to help people addicted to prescription drugs get treatment so they can go back to work.

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