Nearly 150 people die after overdosing on opioid drugs, such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, and even codeine, every day. The misuse of prescription opioids brings in nearly $79 billion a year between treatment centres, law enforcement, and healthcare costs. Despite the large costs and negative stigma associated with prescription drug abuse, it is important to understand the crisis of opioid addiction, including the people behind the pills.
How The Crisis Began
Plenty of people want to talk about how many people are abusing prescription opioids now, but not many begin the conversation with how the crisis came to be in the first place. The problem began about 20 years ago in the late 1990s. This was when pharmaceutical companies convinced the medical community that opioids were the answer to their problems. They touted the medications as pain relievers with no addictive qualities. The result was over-prescription and widespread misuse of these medications. Over the years, the misuse increased and by 2017, nearly 50,000 Americans had died because of these addictive medications.
The Definition Of Addiction
To understand the opioid crisis, you must first understand addiction. Many people use drugs, both prescription and illicit ones, for recreational purposes. While this isn’t healthy and shouldn’t be condoned, recreational drug use does not necessarily mean addiction. Addiction is not the simple use of drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances. In fact, it is defined as a chronic brain disease, and while opioid drug use does lead to physical addiction, abuse of substances or other addictive traits is often a mental or emotional crutch that begins because the person becomes addicted to the happiness and good feelings related to the task. This is why some people try substances and never get addicted and why others simply trade one addiction for another. Something doesn’t need chemicals to be addictive, which is why some people end up addicted to gambling, pornography, and other activities that bring pleasure.
According to ANR Clinic, addiction is not something that people choose willingly, it is an illness and should be thought of as such. Until we change and modernize the way we think about substance use disorders and how we treat them, we won’t be able to make a significant change in the spread of this illness that continues to sweep our nation.
Know The Symptoms Of Opiate Addiction
Part of understanding the opioid crisis is knowing the symptoms of addiction. Most people assume all opiate addicts are too thin, sleep too much, steal or lie, are in and out of jail, and so on. While it’s true that people in the more advanced stages of addiction may exhibit these traits, there are several symptoms that are more common.
Someone who is using opiates may become more isolated from friends and family who wouldn’t approve of the drug use and will likely stop participating in activities he or she used to love. Other symptoms include depression, anxiety, and irritability, changes in eating habits and personal hygiene habits, sudden financial hardships, or health issues such as constipation and dry mouth.
If someone you know was legally prescribed opiates but starts to show signs of addiction, it is important to speak of the problem. Over time, many addicts turn to heroin as a cheaper way to get the high they need to feel good.
If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction, it is important to contact a healthcare provider or a treatment centre that is experienced with opiate addiction to help you get your life back on track. The only way to fight addiction is head on and with a clear heart.