(HealthNewsDigest.com) – You may have only heard the words “opioid epidemic” on the news, or that phrase may hit a little closer to home. At the age of 27, I personally know multiple people in my age group who have passed away from drug overdoses and many others that have struggled with addictions. There can be a tendency to generate a certain idea when thinking of the words “drug user,” but there can be so many pathways that lead one there. The opioid crisis is largely due to the prescription of narcotics to treat pain in a hospital or other medical setting, that then cause dependence and addiction. This often leads users to seek other forms of opioids when they are no longer receiving prescriptions.
Narcotics are very powerful drugs that are safe when used short term but generally have a narrow therapeutic index and should not be used long term. Opioids are poppy-derived medications that are effective at reducing pain, but when are taken in increased dosage, also caused respiratory depression, constipation, and even death. Some different examples of opioids that you may have heard of are: fentanyl, morphine, codeine, and hydrocodone, but there are various others of different potencies.
In the short term, using opioids blunts the experience of pain. This can be very useful for someone going through a very painful experience like chemotherapy, or after trauma from something like a car crash. However, as one continues to use this medication, the pain sensitivity needs a higher and higher dose to create the same effects, thus creating tolerance.
If someone is in the medical system and being given opioids to manage their pain, which is completely acceptable, the cessation of using will create the need to find more to create the same physiological effects. This causes many to turn to other sources to supply the drugs they are seeking, and the cycle of addiction often begins here.
The crisis is so severe that every 8 minutes, someone dies of an opioid overdose, which amounts to 175 deaths every single day. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, you may be wondering how to get off opioids. There are many treatment centers that specialize specifically in opioid addiction and the detoxification process of these drugs. While addiction is so stigmatized in our society, it is important to understand its legitimacy as a disease –one that result in a lost life or with appropriate treatment, a saved life.