In the United States, we are in the midst of the most serious addiction epidemic that we have ever faced. What began as seemingly harmless opioid painkiller prescribing, quickly ballooned into a scourge of addiction the likes of which have never been seen before. Overprescribing led millions of patients with no history of addiction down a precarious road, once hooked many patients began visiting multiple doctors every month to sustain their habit. Before anyone could comprehend what was actually happening in America, the seed of opioid reliance and subsequent dependence had been planted. And now it is deeply rooted in our culture.
It is a fact that we make up a small fraction the global population, yet Americans consume the market share of all prescription opioids on the planet. People in the U.S. have come to think that opioids are the answer for any form of pain, with very few turning down such drugs when offered by a doctor. To be sure, not everyone who is prescribed opioids abuses them, but having so many painkillers out there in medicine cabinets is a huge liability. Many opioid addicts today, initiated use by being given a pill from a friend or family member. Or they took them without permission.
While prescription opioids continue to be a pervasive problem in the U.S., there are several other substances being abused at exponentially greater rates than before. Government crackdowns calling for a more reserved approach by doctors when it comes to prescribing, had the effect of reducing the number of drugs prescribed. But, on the other hand such mandates did not address the root of the problem…addiction. Faced with an increase in obstacles for acquiring prescription opioids, many addicts turned from the doctor’s office to the streets to acquire what they needed illicitly.
The Road to Heroin
Painkillers purchased on the street are expensive, and in many parts of the country difficult to obtain. Heroin, on the other hand, is in many ways more pervasive on the black market, cheaper to buy and often stronger than oxycodone. Switching from prescription opioids to heroin, if nothing else, was a logical decision. Yet, one that was fraught with peril.
Heroin, like OxyContin, is a drug that easily leads to overdose. In the U.S. around one hundred people succumb to an overdose every day, from both painkillers and heroin. However, unlike prescription drugs, most heroin users have no way of gauging the potency of what they are taking. Making it extremely difficult to dose properly; just a little bit too much and one can find themselves walking a tightrope between life and death. What’s more, heroin is often cut with a drug that is almost hundred times stronger than morphine, and there is a good chance the name of the drug is in your lexicon. Fentanyl. The painkillers can dramatically increase the potency of heroin, users rarely know that what they are using is mixed with a narcotic that causes severe respiratory depression. Overdose is, in many cases, a forgone conclusion.
Reversing An Overdose
It is widely accepted that the best tool to change the state of opioid addiction in America is treatment. Unfortunately, many people lose their life to an overdose before they have an opportunity to recover. Which is why it is of the utmost importance that every household, that has active opioid addicts residing, has the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone on hand. It is absolutely vital the friends and family members of addicts be trained in administering the miracle drug.
With each year that passes, more and more cities and states lighten the restrictions on acquiring naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. People who are trained and equipped with naloxone can save lives, friends and family are usually the first on the scene of an overdose. Police and EMTs often arrive too late to administer the drug.
New research conducted at Boston University involved an analysis of nearly 41,000 people who were trained to use naloxone, HealthDay reports. The findings indicated that family members used the antidote in about 20 percent of 4,373 rescue attempts, with an almost 100 percent successful reversal rate. Evidence of why such training is vital in this most deadly epidemic. The study was published in Drug and Alcohol Review.
If you have experienced an overdose, we implore you to seek addiction treatment. The likelihood of experiencing another potentially fatal overdose is high. If you have not had an overdose before, it is not a question of if, it is a question of when. Please contact Simple Recovery today, to begin the lifesaving journey.