The opioid crisis is getting worse in the United States, with the latest data showing a big jump in emergency room (ER) visits due to overdoses. According to the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of opioid overdoses in the country rose by approximately 30 percent in 2017, with heroin and fentanyl being identified as the major drivers of the epidemic.
For the report, the CDC examined hospital billing data and emergency room visits involving opioid overdoses during July 2016 to September 2017 across 45 states. The report highlights the gravity of the problem in major cities and states in the Midwest region, which has witnessed a 70 percent spike in opioid overdose rates. Although, the report doesn’t delve much into the underlying causes of the overdose crisis, the CDC study team has acknowledged the possibility of illicit drugs like fentanyl, which is either sold as or mixed with heroin to increase its potency.
CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat has called the report “very, very concerning” and said it served as a “wake-up call” for all the stakeholders involved in the nation’s fight against the opioid epidemic. “The sharp increases and variation across states and counties indicate the need for better coordination,” Schuchat said, while addressing a press conference on March 6, 2018.
The current report is at odds with the federal government, which has intensified its efforts to curb the overprescribing of opioid painkillers. However, nowadays, illicit fentanyl is being manufactured in clandestine laboratories, where it is mixed with heroin and sold to unsuspecting customers as heroin. Notably, pharmaceutical fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Even a 2017 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says fentanyl and its analogues pose a severe threat to public health because of the current opioid epidemic.
As a part of the ongoing war against drugs, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced the creation of a “Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force,” which will “focus on targeting opioid manufacturers and distributors who have contributed to the epidemic.” On the other hand, the CDC has introduced stringent guidelines for primary care physicians who prescribe opioids for chronic pain. Additionally, the report also includes some worthwhile recommendations, such as expanding access to naloxone – used to reverse overdoses — and spreading awareness about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involving Suboxone and methadone.
Kicking opioid addiction
It is not easy dealing with any substance abuse, especially when it is an emergency arising out of deadly drugs like fentanyl and its analogues. As chronic addictions are always fatal, one should always seek immediate treatment. Opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers, have a tendency to bind to a class of receptors in the brain, momentarily inhibiting the way it responds to painful stimuli. However, what actually happens is that the pain doesn’t vanish for good, rather, it doesn’t trouble the drug user for some time. This instant yet short-lived relief accompanied by euphoria increases one’s tolerance, with every consecutive dose. At such a juncture, an individual may require even higher doses to experience the same degree of relief, resulting in complete drug dependence.
The only way to break free from the clutches of opioids is to seek professional detox at a reputed rehab center. Sovereign Health, one of the leading drug addiction treatment centers in the U.S., understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances despite the negative impact on his or her life. Customized treatment for drug addiction at Sovereign Health of San Clemente is designed to treat a person holistically. If you or your loved one is battling addiction to any prescription drug, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the most effective programs offered by our world-class treatment centers.