Letter: Pain killer addiction can lead to heroin use

To the editor:

I would like to add a few comments to the recent letter on pain management by Dr. Emily Williamson (“Pain management article spot on,” June 3).

We have a huge problem with the abuse of prescription pain medicine in the U.S., especially in Indiana.

Recent data found 80 percent of Indiana counties had higher than national rates for opioid prescriptions filled. In 12 counties, the number of opioid prescriptions submitted for Medicare patients exceeded the county’s total population. Indiana exceeded all but eight states in the number of pain prescriptions written per 100 people.

Dr. Williamson stated that it is not common for people in pain to transition to heroin.

Patients are often given opioid prescriptions for pain. Some become addicted. If you are addicted and can not get a prescription refilled, the cost of opioids on the street is much higher than for heroin. So which do you choose? Addiction is a powerful force.

It may not be common for people in pain to transition to heroin but if you have pain and are addicted to prescription pain medicine, heroin abuse is a real possibility. Four of five newly initiated heroin users reported starting with prescription opioids. Thirty percent of opioid addicts were introduced to the drug by their physician.

Prescription pain medicines are a problem. Prescriptions pain medicines are causing too many death and addiction concerns. There are alternate methods to alleviate pain.

Dr. Dick Huber