America has a problem with opioid drugs and has had for nearly 30 years. The misuse of the drugs is kept hidden in private homes, on dark street corners, and in vacant buildings. The result is that over 130 people die each day from an opioid drug overdose. To compound the problem, more than 70 percent of the reported opioid deaths are a result of a prescription to one of the drugs. The opioid crisis has become an epidemic in America.
What drugs are considered to be opioids?
Heroin was created in 1874 and used for treating pain and curing other drug addictions. During the Civil War, the drug was administered frequently for war wounds. It was prescribed to children for colds in the 1920s and became illegal in 1924 after misuse became rampant.
Hydrocodone came into existence when a pharmaceutical company in 1920 attached a hydrogen atom to codeine, believing it would make the drug easier on the stomach – it was also more addictive. The FDA granted the drug approval in 1943, and the abuse began. Vicodin is one of the most abused forms of hydrocodone prescribed today.
The ever-popular codeine was discovered by a chemist in 1832. Prescribed in cough syrups in the United States for many years, the syrup had amazing results – including addictions. Children were found to relax to the point of suffocation when given codeine. The drug is considered a legal narcotic (schedule two) and not as tightly regulated as other opioids.
This popular pain killer came to be in 1804 and was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, because it had a calming effect on patients in pain. In 1827 it began to be commercially distributed, and in 2013 it was estimated that 523 tons of the drug were produced. In 2016, at least 3 million prescriptions were written for this schedule two drug.
This deadly painkiller is one of the most powerful medications that is consistently abused in the 21st Century. Fentanyl was once prescribed to tens-of-millions of individuals for pain, and many illicitly manufactured street forms of the drug are still used, and many are found to be 50 to 100 times more deadly than morphine.
Why is there an opioid health crisis in America?
Every year there are headlines about abusive trends of drugs in various areas of the United States, such as Heroin addiction statistics in New Jersey. The reason for this epidemic of drug problems is that doctors cut back legal prescriptions, so the cheaper and more easily obtainable heroin took the legal drug’s place. As the cry for more drugs began, foreign countries started finding ways to ship illegal drugs into the US to fill the supply. Another problem is that people with legal prescriptions can sell a single pill for $50 to $100, so they do. That puts more of the illegal drugs back onto the streets. Billions of dollars are estimated to be spent each year on unlawful consumption of opioid drugs. The results are to be expected – more deaths.
How did the opioid problem evolve and spread?
In 1991, the first wave struck with an increase of deaths associated with opioids. The second crisis wave began slowly in 2010 and grew in amazing strength to see an increase of 286 percent opioid-related deaths when a cheap form of heroin began to creep across the United States. The third wave moved the crisis into an epidemic in 2013, and in 2016 there were more than 20,000 deaths from an unlawfully obtained form of fentanyl alone.
What happens when you misuse opioids?
The sad fact is that many people that use or misuse opioids die. The CDC reported that more than 70,000 people died of an illicit drug overdose in 2018 alone, and almost 48,000 of those were from opioids. Statistics on the opioid crisis in America show that almost 22 of every 100,000 people that misuse the drugs will die.
What are the chances of opioid addiction recovery?
The fact is that the numbers associated with opioid addiction recovery have only been collected for about 20 years, and different states have different types of programs and funding for opioid recovery. That means there is no simple answer to the chances of recovery because it is unknown. However, there are hopes for new and burgeoning efforts and exciting programs are showing great promise. Since there are millions of Americans living with opioid addiction, it is hoped that everyone can achieve long-term recovery as more is learned about treating more than just the symptoms.
What are the treatments available for opioid recovery?
There is no one-size-fits-all program for opioid recovery, but there are some proven programs that can successfully start the process. Residential treatment is the first step with a commitment to stay away from any drugs not provided by the medical staff. Methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine can help with cravings for the drugs and the withdrawal symptoms. One of the most important parts of the recovery process is behavioral therapy and daily counseling sessions to look at the basis of the need for the drug.
Thanks to leading-edge recovery programs, there is hope that education and legislation will advance the treatment and recovery rates of opioid users each year. Since the drugs are easily obtainable, it makes sense to ensure the recovery programs are easy to find and enter.