Two years ago, the United States Department of Health and Human Services declared opioids a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis. This action came after almost three decades of having pharmaceutical companies reassure the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
As of 2019, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the opioid crisis has led to, “More than 130 people in the United States to die after overdosing on opioids, every single day.”
The news coverage has been overwhelming and some experts fear that we are becoming desensitized to the constant barrage of information on this epidemic. The impacts can be felt not only in the family structure but in our social fabric and economic dealings. The misuse of and addiction to opioids, which include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is truly a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as our collective social and economic welfare.
Roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
Between 8-12% of those people develop an opioid use disorder.
In 2017, an estimated 1.7 million individuals in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder.
Opioids bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting pain signals. They also activate the reward areas of the brain by releasing the hormone dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria or a "high."
Opioids are a classification of drugs that are derived from or are a synthetic version of opium. These types of drugs bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting pain signals. They also activate the reward areas of the brain by releasing the hormone dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria or a "high."
The most abundant natural opioid found in opium is morphine. It has been used as a pain reliever for decades and has been replicated to come in higher and lower doses as needed by the patient or the pain level. Other examples of common opioids include Codeine, Demerol, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Oxycodone, and Tramadol.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing its efforts on five major priorities. These include:
Improving access to treatment and recovery services
Promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs
Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
Advancing better practices for pain management
If you suspect that a friend, family member, or coworker has become addicted to pain medication, reach out for treatment now. Call the number on the site or request more information.