A recent survey found as many as 1 in 3 Americans know someone who struggles from addiction to opioids. Countless people have seen opioids devastate their own communities, whether in the form of fatal overdoses or addiction. Many people have become addicted to prescription opioids after a painful medical procedure.
Some with chronic pain have turned to illicit drugs like heroin after prescription drugs were too expensive. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl have led to a rise in overdose deaths. The opioid crisis in the United States is clearly one of the country’s most pressing concerns, but how did it arise, what is being done to fix it, and what does the future look like in terms of the human cost of this epidemic?
Origins of the Opioid Crisis
The opioid crisis is the result of a number of social and economic factors. Recent lawsuits allege that pharmaceutical companies marketed drugs like opioids as somehow “less addictive” compared to other painkillers, encouraging doctors to prescribe them to patients and increasing their supply and circulation to irresponsible levels.
The influx of illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl into the United States from foreign countries such as Mexico and China played another role. One article in the American Journal of Public Health notes, however, that the opioid crisis cannot be reduced to one cause such as opioid overprescription. While overprescription is a huge concern, the authors posit that “the crisis is fundamentally fueled by economic and social upheaval, and closely linked to the role of opioids as a refuge from physical and psychological trauma, concentrated disadvantage, isolation, and hopelessness.” All of these developments have caused a nationwide epidemic that continues to take lives, with no clear solution in sight.
The Opioid Crisis in Recent Years
Unfortunately, the opioid crisis has worsened in recent years, largely due to synthetic
opioids like fentanyl. Fentanyl is about 50 times as potent as heroin and 80-100 times as morphine, and is commonly found laced in other drugs like heroin or cocaine in lethal amounts.
The Center for Disease Control reported that between 2013 and 2017, “drug overdose death rates increased in 35 of 50 states and DC, and significant increases in death rates involving synthetic opioids occurred in 15 of 20 states”.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
While many experts worry that the crisis may worsen before it gets better, steps are being taken to mitigate the damage of the opioid epidemic. Federal funding, such as the CDC’s recent grant of $155 million to a number of states, is being allocated towards developing solutions to the opioid crisis.
At the state level, new approaches are being taken in harm reduction, treatment, and public health awareness, such as the wide dispersal of anti-opioid overdose medicine, and new initiatives such as California’s addiction treatment at emergency rooms.
Locally, many communities are working together to increase public knowledge of how to treat an overdose and direct those in need to helpful resources such as detox or treatment centers. These approaches are likely only a first step in ending the crisis, but they do indicate that hope is not lost.
Getting Treatment for Opioid Abuse
If you know someone who is struggling with opioid abuse, it is vital to direct them towards professional treatment. Opioid abuse and addiction, though vicious, can be fought with the help of medical expertise and direction. Consulting with a medical professional and being honest about one’s situation may be difficult, but it is a crucial first step towards recovery.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers a spectrum of substance abuse care,
from medically-supervised detox to a unique inpatient drug rehab program based on a combination of 12-step work with clinical treatment modalities. With individualized care, we will help you or your loved one learn the tools to defeat opioid abuse, manage and cope with physical and emotional difficulties, prevent relapse, and achieve sustained recovery.
If you or a loved one needs help with opioid addiction, please call us at (603)339-4160. We can help.