Opioid Addiction Facts
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) has turned into a national crisis that is impacting public health and the economic/social welfare of our country. With more than 130 people dying per day in the United States alone, OUD is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the country. This endemic started in the late 1990s when pharmaceutical companies began promoting opioids as pain relievers that do not have the potential to become addictive. This led to high prescription rates of opioids by healthcare professionals to manage various pains, after which the medication was widely misused until it became evident that the medicine is indeed addictive. Since then, opioids were misused continuously by people around the world, and with it, the rates of opioid overdose also began to increase rapidly. A few facts on this rising crisis:
- Opioids are usually present in pain relievers that are prescribed for various injuries, surgeries, and dental work due to their effectiveness in managing pain.
- Everyone is equally at risk of getting addicted to opioids, as opioids produce a great feeling of euphoria when taken, and it is possible for anyone to consume it beyond necessary to enjoy the effect.
- Children and adolescents are more at risk of getting addicted to opioids when exposed to them. Therefore, when treating children and adolescents, opioids should only be prescribed to alleviate severe pain, which cannot be managed through other milder medications.
- Although opioids are widely known as pain relievers that are misused to enjoy euphoria, other powerful opioids are sold solely to get high and are sold on the streets along with heroin and illicit fentanyl.
- When opioids are misused along with other drugs, such as alcohol or tranquilizers, or when they are taken without the advice or prescription of a doctor, it can end fatally by leading to dangerous overdoses.
- Continued use of opioids can lead to opioid dependency, which implies that you might experience the usual withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, or trembling, if you stop taking them.
Opioid Prescriptions and Misuse
As mentioned earlier, drug overdose is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. According to statistics, from 1999 to 2008, the overdose death rates, substance sales rates, and substance use disorder treatment admissions rates have all increased in parallel to each other. The overdose death rate in 2008 was four times the rate in 1999; the substance sales rate in 2010 was four times higher than in 1999, and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times higher than the rate in 1999.
It has been analyzed that in 2012 alone, around 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which implies that each American adult had their very own bottle of opioids. This number is alarming, as four in five heroin users started their addiction by first misusing prescription painkillers such as opioids.
Furthermore, it has been identified that around 21% to 29% of people who have been prescribed opioids to manage pain have misused them, of which approximately 8% to 12% developed an addiction to it. Of the people who misused opioids, around 4% to 6% of them have transitioned to heroin use; meanwhile, about 80% of people who have a heroin addiction started by first misusing prescription medicines such as opioids.
Reports of opioid overdoses have increased by 30% from July 2016 to September 2017 in 45 states in the U.S. While the Midwestern regions witnessed an increase in opioid overdose by 70% through July 2016 to September 2017, the larger cities witnessed a rise of 54%.
Who is Most Affected by Opioid Addiction?
Adolescents and children are more likely to develop OUD when exposed to opioid painkillers. In 2015 alone, around 276,000 adolescents were using non-medical painkillers, of which approximately 122,000 had an addiction to the painkillers. Women are also more likely to develop OUD quicker than men, as they are more prone to have chronic pains. This makes them more likely to be prescribed and to be indulged in higher doses of painkillers. Women are also more likely to develop a dependency on opioids as they usually use the painkillers for a longer time frame than men. This can, in turn, lead to an addiction to prescription painkillers, which could eventually turn fatal. Between 1999 to 2010, around 48,000 women have died due to opioid overdosage, and this rate is still increasing gradually.
In addition, women tend to develop OUDs as they usually deal with more emotional, physical, and mental trauma than men. They may take relief from the euphoria they enjoy when taking opioids to fight negative emotions, to forget dark pasts, or to cope with a current challenging situation.
If you or someone you know is dealing with OUD, reach out to us for professional guidance on overcoming it.
Headquartered in New Jersey, Pinnacle Treatment Centers is a recognized leader in comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction treatment serving more than 28,000 patients daily in California, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. With more than 110 community-based locations, Pinnacle provides a full continuum of quality care for adult men and women which includes medically-monitored detoxification/withdrawal management, inpatient/residential treatment, partial hospitalization/care, sober living, intensive and general outpatient programming, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. For more information, visit pinnacletreatment.com or call 800-782-1520.
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