By: Shannon Persad
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Why Is There an Opioid Epidemic in the United States?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 130 people die every day in the United States from an opioid overdose.
Not only does this affect people and their loved ones, but it also affects the social and economic welfare of this country. Opioid abuse has a $78.5 billion yearly price tag due to the costs on healthcare, treatment, and its involvement in the criminal justice system.
Common opioids include prescription drugs, heroin, pain killers, as well as synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
The Beginning of the Opioid Crisis
It starts with the pharmaceutical companies in the late 90s, reassuring the public that prescription opioid pain relievers are not addictive. As a result, pain relievers containing opioids were prescribed at an alarming rate from healthcare providers.
It became evident opioid prescribed medication and pain killers were addictive, but it was too late. In 2017 alone, 70, 237 people died from an opioid overdose in the United States, with 1.7 million reportedly suffering from opioid prescription abuse. Also, an additional 652,000 people suffer from heroin dependency.
The Harmful Results of Opioid Abuse
Because of the rising dependency of opioid drugs, this leads to devasting consequences.
For instance, opioid abuse destroys families and relationships. Those who may need proper treatment may not seek help, resulting in more substance abuse or even death.
Those who are pregnant with opioid addiction and actively use, run the risk of their infant having neonatal abstinence syndrome. According to NIDA, every 15 minutes a baby is born, suffering from opioid withdrawal. Neonatal abstinence syndrome has catastrophic effects for the mother and the infant, also resulting in costly hospital stays due to this complication.
HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne pathogens are occurring because of drug injections and the sharing of needles. It’s why states like New Jersey have a Harm Reduction program that targets the spread of diseases, as well as fighting the opioid epidemic.
What Can You Do During the Opioid Crisis?
Every day substance abuse occurs around us. How can you make sure a loved one doesn’t suffer the consequences? Some steps to consider:
- Urge them to find treatment.
- Find out the root of their addiction by talking to them.
- Help them seek professional advice.
- Be involved in community programs near you.