A new study conducted by a group of American researchers states that abuse of painkiller drugs be the earliest signs that a person could abuse illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine.
Researchers from Drexel University's School of Public Health observed a high risk group of adolescents and found that more than 85 percent of those who admitted abusing injectable or prescribed drugs went on to try heroin.
The researchers wrote in the report, which has been published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, that the change from abusing painkillers to heroin took an average of two years.
Lead researcher Dr Stephen Lankenau said that the major source of painkiller drugs came from the families. "Participants were commonly raised in household where misuse of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol, was normalized. Access to prescription medications - either from a participant's own source, a family member, or a friend - was a key feature of initiation into prescription drug misuse", he said.