The opioid crisis has hit an all-time high in the United States. With patients being prescribed opioids to help ease the pain, more and more people are finding themselves in the grips of addiction to these extremely powerful substances. Whether the prescription coming from a car accident, painful surgery, or even cancer-related treatment—what was once a helpful pain reliever prescribed within reason, has become an epidemic that has ruined the lives of so many.

What happens when someone who has been regulated on an opioid prescription is cut-off from their medication? Withdrawal is the inevitable result. Many patients reported not so much to enjoy the feeling of the narcotic but stated once the drug was withdrawn, the patients fell into misery with reported symptoms of muscle cramps; hot and cold flashes; nerve pain; severe depression; anxiety; and so much more.

After seeing the devastation caused by prescribed opioids, physicians and medical professionals have attempted to limit and, sometimes, with-hold all prescription opioids altogether. The problem, as it turns out, people are becoming so sick with withdrawal and so dependent that they end up turning to that far less regulated alternative, heroin. Heroin is a similar drug to the prescription narcotic and people have found this cheaper alternative to come much easier, rather than to beg their physician to refill their prescription.

It would appear to be useful in the long run to with-hold these powerful narcotics from patients—in a sense that these patients won’t have to suffer from withdrawal. Unfortunately, the problem persists as the newer regulations prevent patients with legitimate pain concerns from access to their powerful pain reliever and other users end up just finding the alternative on the streets.

All in all, prescription opioids are not bad in the sense that they help patients with severe chronic pain—having said that, patients without NSAID resistant pain and patients who do not have chronic pain should not be put on any opioids, to begin with—even if the intention is for temporary use.