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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.