Drug overdose deaths have risen steadily since 2018. This is a disturbing trend, especially in light of the efforts to build substance use awareness. Opioid deaths have increased by 6% since 2018, leading many to wonder why rates of opioid addiction continue to climb.
Why Is This Happening?
To understand why the opioid epidemic has grown to where it currently is, you need to return to the latter part of the 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies were releasing opioid pain relievers almost like they were candy. Each week there was a new flavor.
The pharmaceutical community and medical community assured patients that they would not become addicted to pain relievers. Healthcare providers were distributing them at high rates.
This led to massive misuse of medication. It was only later that it became clear that opioid prescriptions were highly addictive. It was then that the United States started to see an increase in opioid addiction.
The year 2017 saw over 47,000 Americans lose their lives from an opioid overdose. This included illicit drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, and prescription opioids. More than 650,000 suffered from heroin use. More than 1.7 million US residents dealt with substance use disorder that started with prescription opioid pain relievers during the same year.
Who Is Being Affected?
It is estimated that up to 29% of patients given a prescription for opioids for chronic pain misuse it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they form an addiction. However, they may take a higher dose than they were prescribed. Or they may give them away to other people.
It is estimated that up to 12% of people who receive an opioid prescription to help them deal with chronic pain develop opioid use disorder. Sadly, up to 6% of that group will migrate from prescription opioids to heroin. About eight out of ten people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. After a while, it may be difficult for them to get access to prescription opioids, but heroin can be easily found in many communities for a fraction of the price of prescription drugs.
Several factors determine if a person will develop an opioid use disorder. A significant factor is the length of time a person uses opioids from prescription opioids or illicit opioids. Opioid addiction is devastating communities throughout the United States. The effect it is having has made it a public health crisis.
Most think of drug use as something that affects the younger generation. Surprisingly, there has been a sharp rise in opioid use among people who are 50 and older. The dramatic spike in hospitalization from prescription drugs has been among baby boomers in recent years.
Women have a higher propensity to develop disorders linked to opioid abuse. Anxiety-related conditions have led many women to become addicted to these substances as they try to self-medicate, escaping the situations and stresses that cause them anxiety.
<h2>How Is Opioid Misuse Affecting Communities?</h2>
Opioid misuse, as well as overdoses, are linked to the increase of neonatal abstinence syndrome. According to some agencies, every 15 minutes, a child is born suffering opioid withdrawal.
Many people inject opioids into their bodies, often sharing needles with other users. This has led to an increase in hepatitis C and HIV cases. The medical community and the scientific community are trying to do their part in solving this public health crisis.
Because there is a link between the current opioid crisis and the misdiagnosis of prescription medication, law enforcement is aggressively pursuing medical personnel who engage in abusive prescribing of opioids.
There is no single cause for increased drug usage rates in the United States. But the effects of opioid addiction can be seen in families and communities across the country.
Are you battling opioid addiction? Do you want to break free from its grasp? We want to help you. Call us today at 954-523-1167. We look forward to showing you how you can get back to living a life free of opioids.