11.5 million Americans misused prescription painkillers in 2016, says NSDUH - Sovereign Health Group
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“A strange sensation overtook me after I had my first dose. My pain had diminished, but there was something else happening. I started to feel euphoria. I wanted more of it,” said 17-year-old Andrea (name changed) of New York, addicted to OxyContin.

For the 43-year-old Jonathan (name changed) of Los Angeles, the addiction reached the next level as she started with codeine and graduated to heroin as the substance of abuse. “I’d been taking painkillers since my mid-twenties, containing small amounts of codeine, a super-weak opioid. Over time, I needed stronger doses to keep me going all day long,” she said.

“It all began at the age of 13 as an experiment with pot and alcohol. In university, I dabbled with methamphetamines and bath salts, and finally ended up abusing Roxicodone,” said 29-year-old Dorothy (name changed) of Chicago, who nearly died of Roxicodone overdose.

“A car accident left me with a fractured vertebrae. The surgeon prescribed Vicodin and later Percocet to manage my pain. In six months, I became a full-blown addict out on the streets on a doctor-shopping spree,” said 27-year-old Damien of Phoenix, who had no choice but to switch over to heroin.

Like Andrea, Jonathan, Dorothy and Damien, millions of Americans are abusing prescription opioids, such as Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, Roxicodone and codeine, costing the nation a whopping $79 billion annually in lost productivity and health care. In fact, the impact of the opioid epidemic is visible across ethnicities, neighborhoods and social backgrounds.

Medicines such as painkillers produce positive results only if taken as prescribed by a doctor. However, misuse or abuse of prescription opioids may lead to addiction. Experts believe that one of the main causes of the opioid epidemic is the deceptive tactics used by several pharmaceutical companies during the early 1990s to push their drugs into the markets. Unfortunately, due to the misbranding campaigns of such pharmaceutical giants, the United States, which accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 75 percent of prescription opioid use worldwide.

According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report released on Sept. 7, 2017, in 2016, about 11.5 million Americans aged 12 or older misused prescription pain relievers in the past year, compared with 948,000 people who used heroin.

Commenting on the NSDUH findings, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price said, “Gathering, analyzing, and sharing data is one of the key roles the federal government can play in addressing two of the Department of Health and Human Services’ top clinical priorities: serious mental illness and the opioid crisis. This year’s survey underscores the challenges we face on both fronts and why the Trump Administration is committed to empowering those on the frontlines of the battle against substance abuse and mental illness.”

Ways to combat ever-growing opioid crisis

  • Ensuring extensive access to naloxone: Educating the masses about the benefits of naloxone and expanding access and use of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug.
  • Using alternative treatment options to combat addiction: Doctors are keen on increasing access to evidence-based addiction treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves medically assisted detoxification for people suffering from opioid use disorder.
  • Prescribing opioid painkillers with caution: Government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revised their opioid prescribing guidelines for pain management in 2016 to counter this rising public health concern. Additional tools and necessary information have been provided to health care professionals to exercise extra caution while writing prescriptions.
  • Joining hands with public health authorities: Both state as well as local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, in addition to law enforcement agencies, must collaborate to detect any outbreak of opioid overdose and respond immediately to tackle the resulting threats to public health and safety at large.

Way forward

A comprehensive treatment for addiction to prescription opioids involves detoxification as the first step. During the detoxification phase, people addicted to opioids are provided with necessary medications to control the withdrawal symptoms. In addition, patients are given pertinent information about the severity of their addiction levels, possible impact of extreme drug dependency and the risk of relapses even after completion of the treatment procedure.

If any misconception or myth associated with addiction has prevented you or your loved one from taking treatment, contact Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California, which offers a variety of customized therapies for a wide range of addictions to treat the afflicted individuals holistically. Specialists at our state-of the-art addiction treatment centers are trained to identify the underlying causes and prescribe customized treatment for addiction as well as group psychotherapy based on the patient’s requirements. Additionally, patients can also opt for alternative therapeutic activities to regain control of their lives. Call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our representatives for more information on our addiction treatment facilities spread across the U.S.

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