More People Are Using Heroin as Alternative Painkiller

July 30, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. painkiller /ˈpeɪnˌkɪl ər/ (n.) – a medication or treatment that relieves pain
ExamplePainkillers do not usually require prescriptions from doctors.

2. first and foremost /fɜrst ən ˈfɔrˌmoʊst, -məst, ˈfoʊr-/ (idiom) – referring to the most important thing or the first thing to be considered
Example: The team reviewed the minutes of last week’s meeting first and foremost.

3. recreational drug /ˌrɛk riˈeɪ ʃə nl/ /drʌg/ (n.) – a drug or substance that is used for pleasure and enjoyment as opposed to medical purposes
Example: They were arrested for bringing recreational drugs into the party.

4. overdose /ˈoʊ vərˌdoʊs/ (n.) – the act of taking a drug or substance more than the recommended dose
Example: He was hospitalized because of drug overdose.

5. snort /snɔrt/ (v.) – to take drugs by inhaling it through the nose
Example: He had a nosebleed after he snorted too much cocaine.


Read the text below.
Drug dependents are resorting to heroin [HER-oh-in] as an alternative to expensive prescription painkillers, a recent study discovered.

According to the study’s main author, Dr. Theodore Cicero [SIS-uh-roh] of Washington University, drug addicts rely on heroin instead of prescribed medicine because of three factors. First and foremost, prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin became more expensive than heroin. Second, the narcotic is easier to ingest, making it more likely to be used as a recreational drug rather than as a medicine. Third, heroin has become one of the most accessible illegal drugs in the United States.

Researchers did a survey on 9,000 painkiller addicts from 150 drug-treatment institutions across the United States. More than 30 percent of the participants were identified as heroin users. Cicero stated that the majority of the percentage claimed to be unwilling users of heroin, as they merely take the drug for its affordability and not for its recreational purpose. 

Cicero indicated that one shot of heroin amounts to ten dollars, which makes it more affordable than prescription painkillers that are priced at one dollar per milligram. Because of this, heroin has gained a new generation of users and drug dealers, most of whom are in their twenties and live in suburban or rural areas.

Unlike legal painkillers, heroin is not enclosed in hard capsules —making the drug easier to be snorted or injected. Cicero also mentioned that determining the dosage of heroin can be difficult since it is not capsulated. Therefore, the dangers of overdosing become more likely.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Is drug addiction also a problem in your country? Why or why not?
·         How can the study mentioned in the article help put an end to heroin addiction?

Discussion B

·         What do you think causes young people to turn to illegal drugs? Explain.
·         What can parents do to prevent their children from using illegal drugs?

July 30, 2014