Saturday December 7, 2019

The opiate crisis in the U.S.

In the 1960s and 1970s, heroin began to receive national attention when certain musicians died from overdoses, as well as addiction in soldiers who were Vietnam War veterans.

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Opiates have some of the most cases of addiction due to their accessibility and intense ‘high’ - mostly beginning from something as simple as painkillers.

Nobody intends to suffer drug addictions, regardless of what drug it is you are dealing with. Among the drugs that are constantly in the media spotlight for their bad reputation of overdoses is opiates, which include several varieties that are widely popular for their relaxation effects.

Opiates have some of the most cases of addiction due to their accessibility and intense ‘high’ – mostly beginning from something as simple as painkillers. Contrary to many schools of thought, opiates are very easy to access and attach to, and before you know it, you are on a downward spiral, spending money on purchasing new supplies, and eventually leading to overdose and death.

Opioid abuse, which involves drugs such as heroin, prescription pain relievers as well as synthetic opioids is very serious – it affects diverse sectors of the economy including health – the cost of addiction treatments like opiate detox is about $78.5 billion annually.

This article will seek to examine the rate of opioid crisis, particularly in the U.S. It explores how the drug became a major problem in the consciousness of the American public, as many people suffer addictions to the drug regardless of their age or socio-economic status.

How do opiates work in the body?

Opiates have some of the most cases of addiction due to their accessibility and intense ‘high’ - mostly beginning from something as simple as painkillers.
How Opiate Works in Body

You may wonder what makes opiates so addictive, even when compared to other drugs. The use of opiates is very popular among various individuals and drug addicts because of their high risk involving overdoses and addiction, as well as their wide availability. Many people use them as both recreational drugs and for medical treatments (like anesthesia).

They work by sedating the part of the brain that controls homeostatic activities like breathing, which is the respiratory control part of the medulla oblongata. Therefore, when consumed in high doses, they present high possibilities for respiratory failure, respiratory depression, and death.

The epidemic is on serious levels in recent years, as the U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) mentions that almost half of opioid fatalities in 2016 were due to prescription opioids. This makes them a greater cause of deaths currently than gun violence and car accidents.

History of opioid problems in the U.S. – a summary

In the 1960s and 1970s, heroin began to receive national attention when certain musicians died from overdoses, as well as addiction in soldiers who were Vietnam War veterans. When these cases began to rise in profile, medical professionals were hesitant to prescribe them to patients, except in the case of pill mills.

However, things took a turn in the 1990s, with pharmaceutical manufacturers assuring the medical community that there would be low cases of addiction to opioid painkillers, resulting in patients receiving these drug prescriptions at higher rates than before.In fact, since the 2010s, the rates of legal prescription opiates is steadily reducing, but overdoses are increasing at very high rates.

Some of the popular opioid drugs include:

Oxycodone

You may wonder what makes opiates so addictive, even when compared to other drugs. The use of opiates is very popular among various individuals and drug addicts because of their high risk involving overdoses and addiction, as well as their wide availability.
Drug Medicines

In America, this happens to be the most popular recreational drug. First available from the late 1930s, the FDA put it under the category of Schedule II drugs (it has a high chance of addiction and abuse).

Recent developments have led to the drug’s removal from sale by the FDA guidelines due to public health concerns. In 2012, the Canadian drug formulary also removed it from their list of legal drugs.

Heroin

This is a sort of clinic that gives patients narcotics without a real medical reason. They are a major cause of the opiate problem, as they are a major supplier chain for black markets that deal with illegal painkillers.
Medicines

Another drug in high circulation (even though it is illegal),many individuals who abuse heroin are actually abusers of prescription opioids previously, making it dangerous to have an addiction to painkillers. Its use has been on the rise for several years, as indications show more than 600,000 Americans consume the drug (in 2009-2011). its use has steadily increased over several years making it hard to keep track over related deaths or rehab treatments.

Fentanyl

This is a more recent opioid painkiller that is synthetic in nature. It happens to be 50-100 times stronger than morphine and 30-50 times stronger than heroin. In fact, doses as little as 2mg are lethal. In fact, the DEA recommends that officers should not touch or smell the drug as it can result in fatalities.

Fentanyl was not common in the past, but nowis a major issue especially with the bigger cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia.

What are Pill mills?

This is a sort of clinic that gives patients narcotics without a real medical reason. They are a major cause of the opiate problem, as they are a major supplier chain for black markets that deal with illegal painkillers. They can charge exorbitant fees for the patients, therefore making large profits for their businesses. Some states such as Florida prohibit the sale of prescription opiates to curb the problem.

Also Read: Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Florida Home Safe from Pests

What is the NIH and HHS doing to address the problem?

It is no secret that the rise in opiate use has become a big problem. However, the U.S. DHIH (Department of Health and Human Services) is focusing the fight against opioids through five pillars, which are:

Improving the understanding of the problem through public health monitoring

Among the major issues that lead to the problem is stigmatization, which leads to avoidance of the issue. However, experience teaches you that avoiding problems is not equal to solving them, and the key to starting the recovery process is to combat the problem head-on.

This also relates to public education and awareness, so that if you see the signs in your loved one or are going through it, you will know what to do before the problem escalates.

Enhancing access to recovery services

Drug use is associated with stigma in many cultures, even within America. It is therefore vital that all agencies involved step up recovery centers to reduce stigma. This also encourages public conversations around the issue and assists you to recover in case you are battling an addiction.

Giving support to addiction and pain research

Drug use for many individuals stems from a painful situation, and they want to seek comfort in drugs, even though it is not healthy. In order to prevent this, more resources need to go to conducting research and seeking methods that help in managing addictions, including opioid withdrawal.

Final thoughts

Opioid use is not only a big issue within the U.S. in terms of health and loss of productivity, but also an increase in fatalities from overdoses is part of it. The problem lies with certain factors helping in its spread and use, such as its easy accessibility. However, concerted effort by all the parties in the case can help curb the issue.

Next Story

Here’s How Proper Sleep Can Help in Reducing Suicidal Thoughts

The frequency and intensity of disturbing dreams or nightmares, also a factor in insomnia-associated suicide

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Suicidal Thoughts
The sleep aid given to people is most effective in reducing Suicidal Thoughts in patients with the most severe insomnia. Pixabay

 Insomnia is a driver of suicide, and people with severe insomnia may safely benefit from taking a sedative to help address their sleep problems as it reduces their Suicidal Thoughts, a new study suggests.

The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, included 103 participants aged 18 to 65 with major depressive disorder, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.

All participants took an antidepressant for the eight-week duration of the trial and half also took the sedative-hypnotic zolpidem at bedtime.

“While the results do not argue for the routine prescription of hypnotics for mitigating suicidal ideation in all depressed outpatients with insomnia, they suggest that co-presciption of a hypnotic during initiation of an antidepressant may be beneficial in suicidal outpatients, especially in patients with severe insomnia,” said study researchers from Augusta University in the US.

During the study, participants completed regular self-reports of the severity of their insomnia and completed a daily sleep diary during their treatment that included details like how many times they woke up during the night and how long they actually slept.

Researchers also measured distorted thoughts about sleep, like participants thinking they would never again have a good night’s sleep.

The frequency and intensity of disturbing dreams or nightmares, also a factor in insomnia-associated suicide, also were measured.

Patients wore a wrist device to keep up with rest/activity cycles.

Those taking the sleep aid showed both significant immediate and longer-term improvement in their reported insomnia severity.

Suicidal Thoughts
Insomnia is a driver of suicide, and people with severe insomnia may safely benefit from taking a sedative to help address their sleep problems as it reduces their Suicidal Thoughts. Pixabay

While both groups reported significant improvement in their feelings about hopelessness, quality of life, nightmares and dysfunctional beliefs about sleep, as well as related insomnia and suicidality, the group taking the sleep aid had a greater reduction in suicidal thinking.

The sleep aid was most effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with the most severe insomnia.

ALSO READ: Smoking And Obesity May Have Negative Effects on Bone Health

There were no deaths or suicide attempts by participants during the course of the study.

Two weeks after the study concluded both study groups — including those not taking the sleep aid — appeared to have maintained progress with reduced depression scores and suicidal thoughts. (IANS)