Painkilling drugs have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations in Asia realized that the bud of the opium poppy secreted a milk that killed pain and made the user go into a dreamy daze. They didn’t know it yet, but these ancients had discovered a drug that would alter civilizations over the next several thousand years.
While earlier societies purified this “poppy milk” into drugs such as opium and morphine, it wasn’t until modern day that scientists discovered how to create even more pure forms of these drugs. The purified forms, called “opioids”, are now some of the most powerful drugs on the pharmaceutical market. Chemists have even discovered how to create other chemical formulas that mimic the effect of natural opioids without actually coming from the original poppy plant.
The Society-wrecking Effects of Painkillers
While the idea of making pain go away isn’t a terrible idea, the way that these drugs go about creating that effect can be destructive. In addition to blocking the pain signals between the body and the brain, most painkillers also create an intense euphoria high. Drug users love this feeling, and many quickly get addicted to these powerful drugs.
The problem with using painkillers, however, is that they seem to wear off over time. What is actually occurring is that the body is growing tolerant to the drug. The same amount of painkiller is no longer creating the same effect, so the user has to take more in order to get the old level of feeling high. When “safe” levels of painkillers can no longer make the person get high, the user can take dangerously large amounts of drugs and end up overdosing.
Users can also realize that painkillers aren’t doing it anymore, and then switch to other, more powerful drugs such as heroin. In fact, 4 out of 5 new heroin users started out using prescription painkillers. These users are now using dangerous intravenous drugs because they let painkillers get the best of them.
A New Opioid Hits the Market
A new painkiller called Zohydro has just been approved by the FDA, and it is even more dangerous than all the painkillers that have come before. Other opioid painkillers like Vicodin usually have 10 mg of hydrocodone (the actual active drug.) This amount of hydrocodone can already be incredibly addictive. Zohydro, however, contains 50 mg of hydrocodone in every pill. It is 5 times more powerful than drugs like Vicodin that are already getting tens of thousands of Americans addicted every year.
Opioids are already the most abused prescription drugs in the US, and Zohydro stands to increase that number exponentially. Another reason it is so dangerous is the form that the pill comes in. Swallowing pills at least has the advantage that it will release the drug slowly as the stomach digests it. Zohydro comes in a pill form that can easily be crushed. When the drug is crushed, users can snort it like cocaine.
Snorting a drug introduces it to the nasal cavity where it can easily be absorbed through the mucous membranes into a user’s bloodstream. The drug companies that create Vicodin and other painkillers have been forced over time to handle this dangerous problem by making pills that turn into a gummy mess when you crush them and thus prevent snorting. Zohydro, however, is already making drug pushers and drug addicts drool at the possibilities for abuse.
If we want to keep our communities safe from yet another form of drug abuse, we need to get Zohydro pulled back off of the market.