If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help! Call us today at (855) 722-6926
If you or a loved one are struggling, we can help! Call us today at (855) 722-6926

Are Prescription Opiates as Addictive as Heroin?

prescription opiates

You are probably familiar with heroin in some way, shape, or form.

Heroin is an opioid that can be used to treat pain. Whether you saw a headline talking about it in the news or remember learning about it back in middle school, you probably know heroin is highly addictive and often abused. But are you familiar with the abuse of prescription opiates? What may seem like a harmless prescription painkiller for your back pain is actually a highly addictive drug that could be misused or abused as well. Some commonly abused prescription opioids are oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, and morphine.

Although prescription opiates are legal and heroin is not in the United States, that doesn’t mean that those pain pills do not have their own dangers. At our drug and alcohol rehab center in Philadelphia, we provide people both heroin and prescription opiate abuse treatment, so we want to clear up any confusion about heroin abuse versus painkiller abuse.

Heroin Abuse Versus Painkiller Abuse

So, are opiate painkillers more addictive than heroin? At Banyan Treatment Center Philadelphia, we know that both are addictive and abused, but let’s look at heroin addiction compared to opiate addiction.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 2017 that 0.9% of people over the age of 18 had used heroin in the past year, and 3.7% of people had abused pain relievers in the past year. [1] When looking at heroin abuse versus painkiller abuse, it is important to note that while more people are abusing prescription opiates, that doesn’t make the drug more addictive. The potency of prescription opiates can vary greatly depending on the dosage and how it was taken.

What is alarming is that an estimated 45% of people using heroin were also addicted to prescription opioid painkillers at some point in their lives. [2] That is almost half of all heroin users. Many heroin addicts start out addicted to prescription opioids before making the switch to heroin.

The statistics for the future are telling for heroin abuse and painkiller abuse as well. In the last decade, heroin use has more than doubled among people age 18 to 25 and looks like it will only continue to increase. [2] The abuse of prescription opioids seems to be following this same trend. From 1994 to 2007, the prescription rates for prescription opioid in young adults almost doubled. [3]

These numbers are alarming, but you should know that help is out there. At Banyan Philadelphia, we offer a variety of treatment options and levels of care including PHP treatment, IOP treatment, and an opiate addiction treatment tailored to your specific needs.

Looking for opiate or heroin addiction treatment in Philadelphia to get you or a loved one over an addiction problem? Do not wait to get help.

Contact us today at 888-280-4763 to get more information about our rehab centers in Philadelphia and to get started on your journey to recovery free from pills, alcohol, or other drugs.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Opioids
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Today’s Heroin Epidemic
  3. American Society of Addiction Medicine – Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.