The United States of America is grappling with one of its worst ever prescription drug crises. An estimated 900 people die every week from opioid-related overdoses and addiction. Opioid abuse and overdose-related deaths have spiked across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic making things tougher.
The epidemic has reached unprecedented levels such that it is becoming a drag on the economy and a significant threat to national security.
Experts say that the opioid epidemic started with an over-prescription of legal pain-relieving medications. However, the problem has intensified in recent years with an influx of relatively cheap heroin and synthetic opioids supplied from foreign countries by drug cartels.
Although the federal government has come up with measures to help manage the crisis, a lot more still needs to be done.
In this post, we discuss some of the surprising facts about opioid abuse and addiction you need to know. So, let us get started.
What Is an Opioid?
Most of us may have heard of heroin. However, what you may not know is that heroin is a type of opioid. The other type of opioid is the pain-relieving medications that require a prescription.
Such opioids are known as prescription opioids or pain relievers. They are also referred to as pain pills or painkillers.
A qualified physician must prescribe prescription opioids before one can take them. They are mostly provided to adults, but a doctor may prescribe a child pain-relieving opioids in some rare cases.
Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive, and what may start as a simple prescription may lead to opioid abuse and dependency. This is the primary reason the federal government is pumping a lot of money into scientific research aimed at developing non-opioid pain-relieving medications.
Why Do People Become Addicted to Opioids?
Opioids can easily trick your body and brain into believing that the drug is necessary for survival. Even as you strive to adhere to your doctor’s prescription, you may find that you need much more than what was prescribed to relieve your pain and make you feel better.
With time, you develop opioid dependency, and you can no longer survive without the pills. What started as a minor opioid abuse habit develops into severe addiction that takes hold of your body and mind in many ways.
Healing from opioid addiction is far more complex than most people think. Once you find yourself addicted to prescription opioids, your chances of turning to other illegal substances such as heroin and street fentanyl when you can’t access the typical pain pills is pretty high.
Who Is At Risk of Developing Opioid Addiction?
Anyone who is taking prescription opioid painkillers is at risk of developing dependency. This is why the CDC is advising doctors to go for alternative options and only turn to pain pills as the last option.
However, individuals with a family history of drug addiction are 50% more likely to develop an addiction than their counterparts from families with no history of addiction.
Typically, the social conditions of our daily lives, such as job loss, relationship strife, economic insecurity, and family challenges, can push one into drug abuse and addiction. The lonely feeling can create anxiety, grief, hopelessness, frustration, anger, and depression, pushing you into a direction you didn’t want to go.
When most of us reach that breaking point and don’t have a good support system to help us manage the situation, we become vulnerable to substance abuse, and prescription opioids present the perfect chance because nobody will notice that you are overdosing.
What Are the Signs of Opioid Abuse and Addiction?
Individuals addicted to opioids may change their behavior suddenly and start acting strangely. Possible signs and symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction include:
- Losing interest in certain activities.
- Eating more or less than usual.
- Sleeping at odd hours.
- Changing friends suddenly.
- Feeling sad and tired most of the time.
- Unexplained mood swings.
- Getting into trouble with the law.
- Constantly being nervous or cranky.
- Being overly active and doing some things that don’t make sense.
- Attending school or work on an erratic schedule.
If your loved one starts displaying any of these signs and is on prescription opioids, you need to worry. Find a way of talking to them to establish if they have been overdosing and seek professional help before things get out of hand.
What Are the Signs of Opioid Overdose?
In most cases, your loved one will be unwilling to admit that he/she is overdosing on prescription opioids. If you suspect such a thing is happening but don’t have any evidence, be sure to look out for the following signs:
- Extreme sleepiness.
- Snoring or gurgling sounds while sleeping.
- Inability to talk properly/ Gradual loss of speech.
- Slow, shallow breathing.
- Slightly blue skin color and dark-colored lips.
Can You Avoid Opioid Addiction?
The devastating state of the opioid crisis in the country has led many people to wonder if there are any measures they can take to avoid opioid abuse and addiction. Fortunately, there is.
If you or your loved one is considering taking prescription opioids for pain management, it is vital to consult an experienced physician anesthesiologist (pain medicine specialist). The physician will assess your medical condition and advise you on how to use them safely.
He/she can also help you exploit alternative pain-relieving options, if needed. As long as you stick to your prescription guidelines and work with your physician closely, you don’t have to worry about the risk of opioid abuse and addiction.
What Should You Do If You or Someone You Know Is a Victim of Prescription Opioid Overdose/Addiction?
If you or your loved one has been affected by the opioid epidemic, you need to seek immediate help for recovery. Talk to your primary physician and let him/her offer professional help. You can always search the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s website for opioid addiction specialists in your area.
Apart from seeking medical help, you need to join hundreds of thousands of other opioid victims seeking to hold drug manufacturers and distributors who fueled the crisis accountable for their actions.
The opioid epidemic being witnessed in the country today was made worse when drug manufacturing companies and distributors stopped thinking about the patient and put profit first.
By filing an opioid lawsuit, you will have played your role in ensuring justice is served to people who have fallen victim to greed and medical malpractice. Talk to an experienced opioid attorney today to find out if you qualify for compensation.