The unseen blade is the deadliest. If you can’t see something coming, then it’s more than likely you won’t have a prepared defense against it. It’s equal to a coiled snake in a flower garden — something dangerous and deadly hiding beneath something that’s seemingly harmless.
However, there’s always the chance that the roles can be reversed. You yourself may be the snake in the flower garden ready to cause chaos for whoever passes by.
Whether intentional or unintentional, opioid addiction is a very real and very deadly epidemic. Some individuals struggle with substance abuse in many forms and opioids can be their poison of choice. But sadly, some individuals lived drug abuse-free lives until they were prescribed an opioid to take…and then weren’t able to stop taking them. Either way, the addiction is a monster to be battled and knowing is half the battle, so here are 8 things you need to know about the opioid epidemic in 2018.
1 – Opioid Overdose is Becoming a Leading Cause of Death
On a daily basis, almost 120 people die in the U.S. due to an opioid overdose and this can be one of the most startling things to know about the opioid epidemic in 2018. Yearly, that equates to over almost 50,000 deaths per year in the U.S. by opioid overdose. That’s more deaths than kidney disease and suicide and almost as many deaths that are caused by the flu and pneumonia. Just from June of 2016 to September of 2017, opioid overdose deaths increased by 30%.
2 – They’re Gateway Drugs
As if opioids weren’t already bad enough, to some people they’re not good enough. It has been reported that a lot of opioids serve as gateway drugs to more hard drugs, even harder opioids. About 4-6% of the people who develop opioid disorders then proceed to transition into being heroin addicts. The longer someone takes opioids the higher their tolerance becomes, leading them to take more for the same effects.
3 – This is a Decades-Old Problem
Despite seeming like a newer problem that we’re facing, the opioid epidemic actually has its roots buried in the last 1990s. It was then that the pharmaceutical companies mistakenly stated that prescribed patients would not become addicted to their developed opioids. And so the healthcare providers began to issue out pain-relieving opioids are a higher rate. Since then, opioid addiction has rapidly become a serious problem in society.
4 – Publicly Glorified
Despite being as old of a struggle as it is, it has no signs of slowing down and if anything, it’s increasing. One of the main causal factors of this is the influence of entertainment, particularly music. Certain song lyrics promote the use of opioids and other drugs, sometimes even by name. Dozens and dozens of famous musical idols have themselves fallen victim to opioid overdose.
5 – Physically Speaking, It’s Easy to Cure
The real dangers of opioid addiction come from, of course, the addiction. However, on the more physical side of things such as respiratory depression and other things that lead to death, is thankfully easy to reverse before it’s too late. When someone starts overdosing there’s a neutralizing drug that called naloxone. As long as the patient is given life support and the naloxone is prescribed in time, the patient will be saved in almost every case.
6 – There are Economical Repercussions
Billions and billions of dollars each year are spent on the repercussions of the effects of the opioid epidemic. And it doesn’t just include the cost of health care to affected patients, although that is a big factor itself. Having even a nonlethal overdose can lead to hospitalization which is resource-costly. And for those who overdose that actively try to improve their condition, there is the cost of addiction treatment.
7 – PDMPs
This isn’t a completely hopeless battle; there are several ways the opioid epidemic can be culled and slowed down. One of these ways is through a PDMP (Prescription Drug Monitoring Program). A PDMP is a database that tracks opioid prescriptions in a state. Through the use, a PDMP a health care providing and view patients prescribed history to make better-informed decisions on what drugs to prescribe a patient. Having more informed decisions made about prescriptions could greatly lower the risk of addiction.
8 – It Can Be Prevented
Probably the most important thing to consider about the opioid epidemic is that it can be stopped if overdoses and addictions are prevented. Simply being aware of the effects that addiction can have on you and your family will keep you mindful while taking prescribed medications and, hopefully, deter you from taking unprescribed medications. Knowing is half of the battle, and knowing the dangers of the addiction and misuse of opioids is a big deterrent of being another statistic.
It’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family from falling victim to the monster that is the opioid epidemic in 2018 and beyond. If you’re prescribed a medication, take it only as prescribed, and if you feel that something is wrong talk to your doctor or get in contact with another drug conscious entity. Help is usually a click or a call away.