Do you have questions about the opioid crisis? Here are some answers.
The opioid crisis is in full swing, with more than two million Americans estimated to have a substance use disorder involving opioids like heroin or prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. Many Americans have questions about the opioid crisis, including the question of exactly what is the opioid crisis.
Here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions about the opioid crisis.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs derived from opium, which itself is derived from certain varieties of the poppy plant. The two main types of opioids are heroin and prescription opiate painkillers. Heroin is an illegal drug that’s most commonly injected with a needle, but it can also be smoked or snorted. Prescription opiates are powerful painkillers, but like heroin, they’re extremely addictive, and they’re deadly for many.
What is the opioid crisis?
An increasing number of individuals are becoming addicted to heroin and prescription painkillers. This is leading to record numbers of overdose deaths and other problems that impact addicted individuals, their families, and society, including crime and lost productivity.
Why is the opioid problem so bad now?
The opioid epidemic really started with the runaway prescribing of opioid painkillers in the 1980s, which was largely due to a handful of journal articles that relieved some anxiety doctors had about prescribing them. By the mid-1990s, pharmaceutical companies were aggressively promoting the use of opioids to treat chronic pain. They developed and heavily marketed drugs like OxyContin and Fentanyl, which are extremely powerful. According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), current opioid crisis statistics show that 12 million Americans took prescription painkillers in a way other than as prescribed by a doctor.
Through the 1990s and into the new century, “pill mills” began popping up, making it easy for people to get a prescription for pain medications. During the same time, heroin became easier to get and less expensive, and many people who had become addicted to painkillers switched to heroin. Nowadays, the opioid epidemic involves both heroin and prescription painkillers and affects people from all walks of life. However, opioid crisis statistics show that the epidemic has hit young adults the hardest.
Am I at a risk of an opioid overdose?
Many of the questions about the opioid crisis revolve around the risk of overdose. Anyone who uses any kind of opioid, whether heroin or painkiller, is at risk of overdosing.
Opioid overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 1999, and they’re on a steady increase still. Drug overdose is the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, killing more people each year than both guns and automobile accidents.
If you or someone you love is at risk of an opioid overdose, consider asking your doctor for a prescription for injectable naloxone, which the FDA has approved for consumer use. Naloxone can reverse an opioid overdose and buy time for medical personnel to arrive.
What’s being done about the opioid epidemic?
One of the biggest questions about the opioid crisis is what’s being done about it. There’s no easy fix for the opioid epidemic, but experts agree that fixing it will require attacking the problem from a variety of angles. These include:
- Better managing prescriptions for painkillers.
- Finding alternative ways to treat chronic pain.
- Launching public awareness campaigns and educational programs to reduce the number of people who start using opioids.
- Getting people with an addiction into treatment.
Do You Have an Opioid Problem?
Recovering from an opioid addiction is challenging, but then, so is being addicted to opioids. If you abuse or are addicted to opioids and are ready to end your addiction and reclaim your life, Better Addiction Care can help you find a high-quality treatment program. Rehab can help you end your addiction for good and restore your physical and mental health, quality of life, and sense of well-being.
For more information about the recovery process and to begin your journey to recovery, call Better Addiction Care today at 1.877.640.7820.