Both heroin and prescription pain pills belong to the same class of drugs known as opiates. While heroin’s designation as a Schedule I class controlled substance makes for one of the most addictive substances around, prescription pain pills fall under the Schedule II class designation, which can be just as addictive depending on the drug involved.
Not surprisingly, heroin and prescription pain pills produce many of the same effects, which accounts for why recreational users take to using both types of drugs. While combining heroin and prescription pain pills may make for a more intense “high” experience, the effects of this practice on the body can be fatal under the right circumstances. Ultimately, someone who regularly combines these two drug types may well want to consider getting opiate addiction treatment help.
Opiates: Mechanism of Action
Opiates work as central nervous system depressants, essentially slowing down most every major bodily system. According to the University of Texas Medical Health Science Center at Houston, as two forms of the same drug type, heroin and prescription pain pills have marked effects on the following bodily systems and functions:
- Limbic system, or emotion-based functions
- Cardiovascular system
- Rational thinking and decision-making
- Respiratory system
- Learning and memory functions
- Immune system
When ingested, opiates exert their effects in the brain, forcing the release of neurotransmitter chemicals from individual brain cell receptor sites. Over time, these effects alter the brain’s chemical pathways at which point overall brain function becomes dependent on opiate effects to regulate bodily functions as normal.
Dangerous Similarities between Heroin and Prescription Pain Pills
Considering how heroin and prescription pain pills interact with the same cell sites in the brain and produce the same types of effects, dangerous developments can result from combining these two drug types.
In effect, the brain readily integrates opiate effects within its chemical workings so a person’s tolerance level for opiates will increase considerably faster when combining drug types. Faster increases in tolerance levels means users will become physically dependent on opiate effects in general at a faster rate. Under these conditions, it takes little to no time at all before the effects of addiction start to take hold.
What makes opiates so addictive overall has to do with the drug’s effects on the brain’s reward system. The reward system helps regulate learning and memory functions in the brain and also determines what dictates a person’s behaviors, motivations and drive from day-to-day.
Opiate addiction develops once neurotransmitter imbalances start to disrupt reward system functions. In effect, the compulsive drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors brought on by opiate addiction result from the drug’s effects on this system, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. At this point, the brain reward system has become physically dependent on opiate effects.
The Need for Opiate Addiction Treatment Help
Heroin and prescription drugs can be a dangerous combination, speeding up the addiction process and ultimately placing users at increasing risk of overdose. With a large enough dose of either drug type, one or more of the body’s major systems can shut down altogether, which can easily result in death. Considering the potential dangers involved, the need for opiate addiction treatment is dire.
If you or someone you know have taken to combining heroin and prescription pain pills for recreational purposes and have concerns or questions about opiate addiction, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?) for more information.