Canadians abusing prescription painkillers more than heroin

By Michael Dorausch, D.C. staff writer

OTTAWA: According to recent research, which was sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Canadians have been abusing prescription painkillers in greater numbers than they have heroin.

drugs, painkillers, opioidsThe government-sponsored research looked at the the use of heroin as well as some commonly prescribed painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine, Tylenol 3 and 4, Demerol, and Percodan from the years 2001 through 2005.

The study was conducted in seven Canadian cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Quebec, Fredericton, and St. John. The findings raise questions about the current focus of Canada’s policy on drug control and drug treatment programs.

An opioid is any agent that binds to opioid receptors, found principally in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. There are four broad classes of opioids: endogenous opioid peptides, produced in the body; opium alkaloids, such as morphine (the prototypical opioid) and codeine; semi-synthetic opioids such as heroin and oxycodone; and fully synthetic opioids such as pethidine and methadone that have structures unrelated to the opium alkaloids.

Opioids are commonly prescribed by medical doctors as painkillers. In Canada, prescription opioids that are the most commonly prescribed include OxyContin, morphine, Demerol, Percodan, and Tylenol 3 or 4.

According to the study, the use of heroin in Canada has become an increasingly marginal form of drug use among illegal opioid users in Canada, especially outside of Vancouver and Montreal.

Demerol, a brand-name for the drug pethidine, is a fast-acting opioid analgesic intended for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. OxyContin contains oxycodone, a very strong narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine. It is intended to help relieve pain that is moderate to severe in intensity.

Percodan is a brand-name potent opioid pain killer intended to treat moderately severe to severe acute pain. Its most active ingredient is oxycodone hydrochloride. It has largely been replaced by Percocet (which is a compound of oxycodone and acetaminophen).

Tylenol 3 and 4 are brand-names for acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) combined with codeine. Combination medicines containing narcotic analgesics and acetaminophen are typically prescribed by medical doctors to relieve pain.

One thing is for certain, Canadians are not getting their opioid prescriptions filled by local family chiropractors, since chiropractors in Canada (and the United States) do not prescribe medications, not even pain pills. @ 7:08 pm | Article ID: 1164089343