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Prescription Painkillers Seen as a Gateway to Heroin

www.nytimes.com Published: February 10, 2014
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The life of a heroin addict is not the same as it was 20 years ago, and the biggest reason is what some doctors call “heroin lite”: prescription opiates. These medications are more available than ever, and reliably whet an appetite that, once formed, never entirely fades, according to The New York Times.



Details are still emerging about the last days of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who died last week at 46 of an apparent heroin overdose. Yet Mr. Hoffman’s case, despite its uncertainties, highlights some new truths about addiction and several long-known risks for overdose.

The actor, who quit heroin more than 20 years ago, reportedly struggled to break a prescription painkiller habit last year. Experts in addiction say that the use of medications like Vicodin, OxyContin and Oxycodone — all opiates like heroin — has altered the landscape of addiction and relapse, in ways that affect both current users and former ones, The Times reports.

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