Studies show that in the United States, prescription drugs are the most widely abused class of drugs, immediately after alcohol and marijuana, and succeeded by street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Medicines, such as painkillers, prove to be effective only if they are taken as prescribed by a doctor for the purpose of alleviating pain arising from an antecedent ailment. However, misuse or abuse of these medicines may lead to an addiction causing people to languish in the throes of a prescription opioid addiction epidemic.
A new study conducted by the University of Virginia suggests that the numbers of opioid and heroin-related overdose fatalities have largely been underreported across the nation. The findings reveal that the actual opioid and heroin-related fatalities were 24 and 22 percent higher respectively than the reported rates. Although the differences were apparent across states, significant understated variations from the reported figures on opioid deaths were observed for California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Arizona. On the other hand, the opioid mortality rates in New Mexico, Ohio, Connecticut, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida were dramatically overestimated.
Experts believe that the main reason for this epidemic assuming mammoth proportions is the deceptive tactics used by several pharmaceutical companies during the early 1990s to push their drugs into the markets, thereby contributing in great measure to the ongoing crisis. Companies such as Purdue Pharma were sued for their misleading advertisements for promoting OxyContin in 2000 by downplaying the addictive risks of the drug which has led to the present scenario. Unfortunately, due to the misbranding campaigns of such pharmaceutical giants, the U.S., which comprises only 5 percent of the world’s population, is responsible for 75 percent of the prescription opioid use worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “approximately 70 percent of all Americans take a pharmaceutical drug daily.” In fact, popping pills has become a daily ritual for most Americans. If one were to exclude senior citizens, the figures would soar to an astronomical 90 percent. But, what is posing to be an even more worrisome trend is that 20 percent of children are now pharmaceutical drug users. Abuse of prescription medicines to relieve pain is the underlying cause for this nationwide epidemic. CDC statistics show that since 2003, there has been a steady spike in the number of deaths related to prescription drug abuse. Painkillers have claimed more lives than heroin and cocaine combined.
How to put an end to the prescription opioid epidemic?
Exceeding the medically-prescribed dose or taking painkillers for non-medical reasons is bound to increase an individual’s potential for abuse. Some of the measures to rein in this ever-growing epidemic are:
- Curb medical use of opioid painkillers: The prescription drug abuse epidemic has grabbed the attention of government agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which have revised their opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain in 2016 to curb this ever-growing menace. Health care professionals have been provided with additional tools and information to make more cautious prescribing decisions.
- Use alternative therapies to treat addiction: Medical practitioners are keen on expanding access to evidence-based addiction treatment therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which includes medically assisted detoxification for victims of opioid use disorder.
- Provide widespread access to naloxone: Spreading awareness about and expanding access and use of the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, naloxone, to save the lives of victims of opioid overdose should be promoted.
- Work jointly with 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.
Opioid addiction can be treated
America is in the midst of a raging opioid crisis, which is adding to the number of fatalities at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, millions of Americans find themselves being trapped in the fetters of addiction faster than they may ever realize. The only way to lead a sober life again is to undergo an individualized prescription drug addiction treatment program at a well-known drug addiction rehab to reverse the damaging effects of lethal opioids.
If you or your loved one is battling an addiction to any opioids or heroin, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about our state-of-the-art addiction treatment centers spread across California. Sovereign Health understands the misery of someone who is unable to refrain from dangerous prescription opioids despite the negative effects on his or her life. Our customized addiction recovery plans at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are designed to treat the person holistically.