America’s culture of drug use acceptance is leading to a sad reduction in the general population. Opioid overdoses are at an unfortunately high rate, with opioid-related suicides making up 4.3% of all suicides in 2016. Opioid use also has significant long-term repercussions – which is why people who are addicted to opioids deserve effective recovery options.

America’s Opioid Epidemic

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the opioid crisis is rampant in America and has been for decades. The first wave of the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s, when an influx of natural and semi-synthetic prescription opioids led to a rise in overdose deaths. In 2010, heroin led to another spike in overdose deaths.

The current opioid epidemic involves synthetic opioids that lead to fatal side effects. The deadliest of these drugs includes illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which drug cartels often use to cut heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit pills. It can take as little as a quarter of a milligram of fentanyl to cause someone to overdose.

The CDC states that opioid overdose deaths are continuing to increase nationwide.

  • Every day, approximately 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses.
  • Between 1999 and 2016, over 630,000 people died from a drug overdose. Over 350,000 of these overdoses involved opioids.
  • The number of opioid overdose deaths in 2016 is 5 times higher than in 1999.
  • More than 28,000 people died from synthetic opioids in 2017.

Opioid Overdose Death and Suicide Rates

The disturbingly high number of opioid deaths is causing another major problem for America. Overall, the opioid epidemic reduces population life expectancy in the regions where opioid use is prevalent.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers noted that patients who experience chronic pain and mood disorders receive opioid prescriptions at a higher rate and have a higher suicide risk.

  • In 1999, 2.2% of all American suicides involved opioid overdoses.
  • 3% of American suicides in 2014 involved opioid overdoses.
  • The highest increase of opioid overdoses occurred in patients aged 45 to 64 years.
  • Suicide risk for people with Opioid Use Disorder is 6 times higher than the general population.

Much of this data involves patients who received opioid prescriptions and later became addicted to them. According to the CDC, there has been a disturbing increase of the acceptance and use of these prescription opioids to treat chronic pain unrelated to cancer.

  • Doctors wrote more than 191 million opioid prescriptions in 2017.
  • Common opioid drugs involved in opioid deaths include Methadone, Oxycodone (OxyContin), and Hydrocodone (Vicodin).
  • Different states prescribe opioids at different rates. The lowest prescribing state is Hawaii. The highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote nearly three times more opioid prescriptions per patient as Hawaii.
  • More than 11.5 million Americans abused prescription opioids in 2016.

Reactions to prescription opioids vary from person to person. Poverty, living in a rural area, taking high doses of prescription drugs, and obtaining multiple prescriptions can increase a person’s risk of prescription drug abuse. It is necessary to analyze the way doctors treat pain in order to reduce this overdose and suicide risk.

Long-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

In the United States, suicide rates far surpass homicide rates. As discussed early, approximately 4.3% percent of these deaths involve opioids and more Americans have access to these dangerous drugs – from OxyContin to handle post-surgery pain to Vicodin to treat wisdom tooth aftercare.

Access to these drugs is significantly reducing the American population. Over the past decade, the country has lost over 300,000 people to opioid overdoses. These rates are climbing at a steady rate due to the presence of synthetic opioids in street drugs. Addiction can destroy relationships, family dynamics, and a person’s ability to learn and work. However, recovery is possible.

It is important to understand how opioid abuse affects a person’s physical and mental health. According the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term effects of opioid addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Long-term imbalances in neurons
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Changes to the physical structure of the brain
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Violent responses to stress
  • Uncontrollable drug-seeking
  • Chronic relapsing disease

These long-term effects of opioid use can have significant impacts on a person’s physical and mental health. Stress, violence, strained relationships, and physical pain increases with opioid use. Those struggling with opioid addiction deserve compassionate, comprehensive care,

How Can We Change the Opioid Narrative?

America’s culture of drug acceptance is contributing to a significant opioid overdose crisis. The proportion of suicides, number of deaths, and amount of opioid prescriptions still written is all cause for alarm. We have to change the opioid narrative to save lives.

    • We need to educate our peers, communities, schools, and workplaces about the dangers of opioid addiction. We need to explain the long- and short-term effects of these drugs and how to seek help when you need it.
    • We must engage in intervention programs to help those struggling with opioid addiction. These interventions must be understanding and well-informed about the facts of opioids. We need to provide compassionate care for effective, long-term recovery.
    • We need to engage in community outreach programs to reach areas where opioid addiction is high. We need to create positive, drug-free spaces for youth and young adults. We need to combat the stigma of drug addiction for older adults and encourage people to seek help.

Are you seeking help for an opioid addiction? Emerge And See is a trusted resource for those seeking help for addiction treatment and recovery. Contact us today to learn how addiction recovery is possible.