5 Disturbing Facts About Opioid Addiction

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Understanding the facts about opioid addiction is important for helping yourself or someone you love overcome an addiction for good.

The opioid crisis is in full swing in the United States, where more than two million people are addicted to prescription painkillers and nearly 600,000 are addicted to heroin. Opioid addiction takes a major toll on all areas of an addicted individual’s life, including his or her relationships, finances, physical and mental health, and relationship with the law. Here are five disturbing facts about opioid addiction that can help you better understand opioid addiction and the opioid crisis.

1. Around 23 percent of people who use opioids will become addicted.

Among people who use marijuana, around nine percent will become addicted. For alcohol, this number is around 15 percent. Opioid addiction statistics show that an astonishing 23 percent of people who use them will become addicted to them. Opioids are highly addictive due to the intense effect they have on the brain’s pleasure center and the memory and learning centers of the brain. Opioids hijack the normal functioning of the brain and lead to compulsive behaviors and intense cravings. One of the most important opioid addiction signs is being unable to stop using opioids despite the negative consequences they cause.

Opioids also produce a high level of tolerance, which means you need increasingly larger doses to get the desired effects. Tolerance can quickly lead to dependence, which is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop using opioids.

2. Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999.

One of the most disturbing facts about opioid addiction is the number of overdose deaths caused by prescription painkillers and heroin. The opioid crisis largely stems from a massive marketing campaign by pharmaceutical companies in the late 1990s that led to far more prescriptions for opioid painkillers being written. Since that time, overdose deaths have increased fourfold, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Today, 91 people die of an opioid overdose in the U.S. every day, according to opioid addiction statistics.

3. Less than 10 percent of people who seek help for an addiction get the help they need.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that good intentions and willpower are rarely enough to end an addiction for the long-term, and that professional help is almost always needed. But many addicted people resist treatment, for a variety of reasons. The most common of these include the stigma that surrounds addiction, the cost of treatment, and fear that treatment won’t work for them. But a high quality treatment program works for most people who engage with their treatment plan, according to opioid addiction statistics.

4. Doctors prescribe enough opioids each year to medicate every American for three weeks.

In 2015, more than one in three Americans were prescribed opioids for pain. While doctors are prescribing opioids less often than they were in the recent past, they’re still prescribing three times more opioids than they were in 1999, and the prescriptions last longer than they did in the late 1990s. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s acting director, Anne Schuchat, doctors are prescribing enough opioids each year to medicate every single American around the clock for three weeks.

5. Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate.

One of the facts about opioid addiction that many people don’t understand is that opioid addiction affects Americans from all walks of life, from physicians and teachers to university students and stay-at-home mothers. It affects men and women of all ages and all income and education levels, in rural areas and urban centers. Opioid addiction doesn’t discriminate. A recent Kaiser survey found that nearly half of all Americans know someone who is addicted to opioids. Opioid addiction signs include having trouble staying awake, constricted pupils, withdrawing from friends and family, impulsivity and mood swings, and losing interest in activities once enjoyed.

Access to Treatment is Essential for Ending the Opioid Crisis

Experts across the board agree that easier and more affordable access to treatment is crucial for stemming the opioid crisis. Addiction changes the physical structures and chemical function of the brain, and this affects thought and behavior patterns. One of the more hopeful facts about opioid addiction is that treatment works. It helps individuals re-learn healthy ways of thinking and behaving and address the underlying causes that led to the addiction. It helps individuals detox from opioid safely and comfortably, and medication-assisted treatment helps restore normal brain function and reduce cravings to allow individuals to focus solely on developing the skills and strategies they need to end their addiction for good. Treatment can help you or someone you love restore your life and end an opioid addiction for the long-term.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.