The Opioid Crisis: A Pharmaceutical-Led Disaster
Every day, people in the United States use opioids for a variety of reasons. Many people started using these drugs to help them cope with pain, whether it was for a short time after a surgery or for long-term, chronic health conditions. Now, they may be turning to an addiction treatment center in Hilton Head, SC to help.
Today, opioids have led to what has been called an opioid crisis. Over 130 people overdose on opioids every day in the United States, resulting from their misuse and from cutting in other drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that the economic cost of opioid abuse in the United States is at least $78.5 billion annually, which includes expenses related to the criminal justice system, addiction treatment, health care and lost productivity.
How Did the Opioid Crisis Happen?
The opioid crisis is a result of a long period of time when opioid drugs were almost freely given out by prescribers. In the late 90’s, pharmaceutical companies told everyone that opioid pain relievers were not addictive and that patients wouldn’t have any trouble stopping them when they no longer needed them.
This resulted in prescribers giving out the strong pain-relief medications with disastrous results. It wasn’t long before it was clear that the medications were addictive, as widespread misuse was seen. In 2017, it was believed that 1.7 million people in the United States were struggling with substance abuse as a result of using opioid treatment
How Common Is Opioid Misuse?
Approximately 21 to 29 percent of the patients who receive prescriptions for opioids and who also have chronic pain misuse those drugs, according to a study from 2015. Of those who are prescribed opioids, around 8 to 12 percent end up with an opioid use disorder that may require intervention.
Opioid use is common across the U.S., but the Midwestern region saw a massive increase in overdoses, with a 70 percent increase between July 2016 and September 2017. Large cities also saw overdoses increase by 54 percent across 16 states, showing how serious the crisis has become.
What Drugs Are Used to Treat Opioid Addiction?
It’s most common to use methadone for opioid addiction. Methadone is a type of long-acting synthetic opioid that helps to prevent withdrawal in those reducing their intake of opioids. The medication is taken orally and is available when you start your medical assisted treatment at a licensed opioid treatment program or begin a methadone maintenance program through your health care provider.
Usually, methadone is used in combination with additional treatments, such as behavioral therapies. Individual and group counseling, for example, may boost the results of taking methadone. Anyone struggling with opioid abuse should call their local addiction treatment center in Hilton Head for immediate support.