The United States currently faces an unprecedented epidemic of opioid addiction. This includes painkillers, heroin, and other drugs made from the same base chemical. In the couple of years, approximately one out of twenty Americans reported misuse or abuse of prescriptions painkillers. Heroin abuse and overdoses are on the rise and are the leading cause of injury deaths, surpassing car accidents and gun shots. The current problem differs from the opioid addiction outbreaks of the past in that it is also predominant in the middle and affluent classes. Ultimately, anyone can be fighting a battle with addiction and it is important for family members and loved ones to know the signs. The cause for this epidemic is that the current spike of opioid abuse can be traced to two decades of increased prescription rates for painkillers by well-meaning physicians. Many people have developed an addiction due to an injury and which were prescribed painkillers to manage and treat the pain. Prolonged use leads to dependence and once a person is addicted, increasing amounts of drugs are required to prevent feeling of withdrawal. Addiction to painkillers often leads to harder drugs such as heroin due to the black market drug being cheaper. Prescription drugs remain a far deadlier problem and more people abuse prescription medication than cocaine, methamphetamine heroin, MDMA and PCP combined. Drug abuse is ending too many lives too soon and destroying families and communities.
Tennessee is one of the states hit hardest by the nation’s opioid epidemic which began about 20 years ago and had a stark increase since 2009, now reaching unprecedented levels across the county with a 200% increase in the rate of deaths involving opioids (Rudd, Aleshire, Zibbell, & Gladden, 2016; Fletcher, 2016). In Tennessee specifically, it is estimated that about 1 in 6 abuse opioids; the CDC estimates that for every one person who dies from an opioid overdose in Tennessee there are 851 others in the state who are in various stages of their abuse, misuse, and treatment; and the most recent statistics show that opioid overdoses alone make up about 7.7% of deaths in Tennessee, making them responsible for more deaths than car accidents in the state (Botticelli, 2016; Rudd, Aleshire, Zibbell, & Gladden, 2016; Fletcher, 2016; ONDCP, 2016; Thompson, 2016).
Opioid use in the US has increased over the years, and this has led to an increase in substance abuse. Substance abuse is not only associated with use of illicit drugs but also prescription drugs. In 2015, of the 20.5 million reported cases of substance abuse, 2 million had an abuse disorder related to prescription pain relievers and 591,000 associated with heroin.1 The increase in substance abuse disorder has led to an increase in opioid related death. In 2015 drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death in the US with 52, 404 lethal drug overdoses.2
Opioid addiction is so prevalent in the healthcare system because of the countless number of hospital patients being treated for chronic pain. While opioid analgesics have beneficial painkilling properties, they also yield detrimental dependence and addiction. There is a legitimate need for the health care system to provide powerful medications because prolonged pain limits activities of daily living, work productivity, quality of life, etc. (Taylor, 2015). Patients need to receive appropriate pain treatment, however, opioids need to be prescribed after careful consideration of the benefits and risks.
The use of opioids and other drugs continues to gradually increase in the United State. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled since 1999” (CDC website). Individuals are abusing prescription opioids such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. Prescriptions opioids that are supposed to be used as pain relievers, cough suppressants and for withdrawal symptoms are being use by individuals in order to feel relaxed or for the overwhelming effect of euphoria. These types of drugs are to be taken orally, but people are snorting, smoking, and injecting them in order to get a better high. I have personal encounters with opioid drugs and opioid abuser on a regular
Last year there were over 64,000 reported opioid-related deaths in the United States – making it the leading cause of accidental death in people under the age of 50 in this country (Katz). Opioids, also referred to as painkillers, have become a growing problem over the past two decades particularly in rural communities all across the country where the death rates are higher per capita compared to the death rate in cities (“America’s Opioid Epidemic is Worsening”). These narcotics, such as codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone are extremely addictive and, as a result, this silent killer has quadrupled the overdose death toll since 1999
Opioid drugs are some of the most widespread pain medications that we have in this country; indeed, the fact is that opioid analgesic prescriptions have increased by over 300% from 1999 to 2010 (Mitch 989). Consequently, the number of deaths from overdose increased from 4000 to 16,600 a year in the same time frame (Mitch 989). This fact becomes even more frightening when you think about today; the annual number of fatal drug overdoses in the Unites States now surpasses that of motor vehicle deaths (Alexander 1865). Even worse, overdose deaths caused by opioids specifically exceed those attributed to both cocaine and heroin combined (Alexander 1865).
In Nolan and Amico’s article, “How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic?” they argue the opioid epidemic has become the worst drug crisis in American history. Heroin and other opioids overdose kill more than 47,055 people a year. Deaths caused from drug overdose has outnumber as much as 40 percent compared to the death caused from car crashes in 2014 (Nolan and Amico 3). Furthermore, in 1999 there were only 15000 people died from drug overdose. This number has tripled in 15 years. Also, in his article, “America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse” Volkow also presents the fact that “with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin. The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise. For example, the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has
Many people may not realize this but multiple states, including Michigan, are facing an epidemic. It is not a disease, however, it is a heroin epidemic. In a country where addictive opioid pain-killer prescriptions are handed out like candy, it not surprising heroin, also known as smack or thunder, has become a serious problem. The current heroin epidemic Michigan is facing, as are dozens of other states, has spiraled out of control in recent years. In Michigan, some of the areas hit hardest by this drug are in the southern portion of the state, like Wayne, Oakland, and Monroe Counties. The connection between painkillers and heroin may not be clear, but this is because both are classified as opioid drugs, and therefore cause many of the same positive and negative side effects. As a country, we are currently the largest consumer of opioids in the world; almost the entire world supply of hydrocodone (the opioid in Vicodin) and 81% of the world’s oxycodone (in Percocet and OxyContin) is used by the United States (Volkow). Along with consuming most of the world’s most common opioids, we have gone from 76 million of these prescriptions in 1991 to 207 million in 2013 – constantly increasing except for a small decrease starting in 2012 (Volkow). This widespread use has caused numerous consequences from increasing emergency room visits – for both painkillers and heroin – to sky-rocking overdose cases all over the country (Volkow). Michigan, unfortunately, currently has one of the
The rate of death due to prescription drug abuse in the U.S. has escalated 313 percent over the past decade. According to the Congressional Quarterly Transcription’s article "Rep. Joe Pitt Holds a Hearing on Prescription Drug Abuse," opioid prescription drugs were involved in 16,650 overdose-caused deaths in 2010, accounting for more deaths than from overdoses of heroin and cocaine. Prescribed drugs or painkillers sometimes "condemn a patient to lifelong addiction," according to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This problem not only affects the lives of those who overdose but it affects the communities as well due to the convenience of being able to find these items in drug stores and such.
If you watch the news it should come as no surprise that drug abuse and overdoses have increased dramatically in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 36 million people abuse opioids throughout the world with 2.1 million in the U.S. who currently suffer from opioid abuse disorders (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). These astonishing numbers are only marginalized when comparing them to opioid related deaths in the United States. With an increase of 137 percent since 2000, deaths from drug overdoses now occur 1.5 times more often than deaths from motor vehicle accidents (Rudd Aleshire, Zibbell & Gladden, 2016). The opioid epidemic in the
America has a major problem with opioid addicts, and many facilities are helping the addicts by providing safer options to taking the drugs their bodies crave. Methadone clinics are places where people addicted to opioids can receive medicine-based therapy. Opioid use, drugs such as heroin, morphine, and prescribed painkillers, has increased in the US with all age groups and incomes. People become addicted to these drugs when they are prescribed, recreationally used with other addicts, or they are born addicted. Many health institutions are addressing this issue with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 addicted
The drug epidemic in America is a growing problem and continuing to take hundreds of lives everyday, particularly opioids. These highly addictive drugs are taking the world by storm and claiming thousands of life with no remorse. The pharmaceutical industry is making millions off the addiction and pain of the American people causing a widespread of drug overdoses and deaths all across the United States. According to The New York Times, “Public Health officials have called the current opioid epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history, killing more than 33,00 people in 2015.” (Scott Morgan) Addiction, money, and the vulnerability all play a part in the opioid widespread epidemic.
As the United States struggles to deal with what’s been called the worst drug crisis in American history, its veterans have also been caught up in the opioid epidemic. About 60 percent of those returning from deployments in the Middle East, and 50 percent of older veterans suffer from chronic pain, according to Veterans Affairs officials. That’s compared to about 30 percent of Americans nationwide.
The Opioid Epidemic has effect a vast majority of the American population and has destroyed and taken these American's lives. Certainly, every American has seen the effects of opioid addition and how it effects their loved ones. It has crumbled families and pushed people apart. It is almost as if anyone can walk the streets of their home town and find the shells of once successful people turn inside out in to homeless lonely beggars scavenging for there next pill, but corrupt drug companies have forced there substances onto these people just to take all they have.
According to Michigan Department of Health and Human services deaths caused by Opioid/heroin abuse now exceeds the gun and traffic fatalities. More than 300 deaths in Michigan each year are caused by this issue (Domino, Andrew). Prescription for individual dosage units of schedule II drugs increased from 180 million in 2007 to 745 million in 2014. Interestingly, a report from the Michigan state’s Health