Prescription opiate addictions are reaching epidemic levels in our nation. To put this problem into perspective we can look at the number of prescriptions filled in the US last year. For instance, over 4,065,175,000 prescriptions were filled at retail establishments in 2015. A report from ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) shows that more than 300 million of those prescriptions were for opiate painkillers. Furthermore, opioid abuse is currently the leading cause of overdoses and preventable deaths.
So, what causes a person to become addicted to opiates? First of all, the drugs change the way the brain reacts to pleasure and pain. Opiates affect the brain mood by increasing the dopamine levels. When the brain is flooded with these extra amounts of dompamine, euphoria is experienced by the user. Although this is great for chronic pain sufferers, they must follow dosing directions carefully to avoid developing high tolerance levels. Increased tolerance can lead to dependency or addiction. Also, many individuals use opiates reacreationally to get “high”. They mistakenly assume these drugs are safer than street drugs because they were prescribed by a physicain. This line of thinking has resulted in an unprecedented number of addicts in the US, and globally, as well.
Do Opiate Addictions Differ Based on the Drug Involved?
To understand the scope of opiate addictions, we can consider the variety of drugs on the market and how they compare as far as side effects and popularity. It is important to note that there are hundreds of derivatives of opiate drugs. This is only a partial representation.
For instance, the most commonly prescribed opiates are:
- Codeine (only in generic form)
- Fentanyl (Fentora, Duragesic, Actiq)
- Methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)
- Hydrocodone (Lorcet, Vicodin, Norco)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
Comparatively, the most commonly abused prescription opiates are:
Of course, each person reacts to the effects of these drugs differently. However, there are common side effects and symptoms of abuse that are noticeable reagardless of which opiate is involved.
Facts About Opiate Addictions and the Dangers of Abuse
The widespread use and abuse of opiates is responsible for over 19,000 overdose deaths in 2014. Unfortuantely, many of these deaths could have been prevented if proper treatment had been sought in time. Far to many people who use opiates fail to educate themselves about possbile adverse reactions. Also, individuals who choose to abuse opiates are only interested in getting high and are in denial or don’t care about the dangers of this behavior.
Here are 10 facts that might change a person’s mind about abusing opiates:
- Women are more inclined to suffer chronic pain and are therefore at greater risk than men of opiate addictions.
- In 2014, more than 467,000 adolescents were using pain medications for non-medical reasons.
- More than 168,000 young people aged 12 to 17 years old were addicted to opiates in 2014.
- Overdose deaths from opiate abuse have quadrupled since 1999.
- Americans are the biggest consumer globally of prescription opiates.
- A person can become addicted to opiates even if taking them as prescribed.
- Tampering with time-release opiates for euphoric effects can cause sudden death.
- Tighter restrictions on opioid prescriptions and higher costs have led people to resort to illicit drugs like heroin.
- Last year, more than 586,000 people had a substance abuse problem involving heroin.
- More than 1.9 million Americans have an opiate problem or addiction.
Given these points, it isn’t difficult to see that opiate addictions are rampant across our country today with no foreseeable solution. Thousands of organizations and concerned citizens have joined forces to bring education, awareness, and treatment in an effort to prevent or end addictions. In this way, many lives will be saved. However, there are still far too many people falling victim to these dangerous drugs.
If you would like to be part of the solution, or if you need treatment for opiate addiction, call our toll-free number now. One of our knowledgeable counselors will answer your questions and help you get the information or the help you need.