American Epidemic of Opioid and Heroin Addiction

American Epidemic of Opioid and Heroin Addiction

Over the past two decades, we’ve been experiencing a steep increase in opioids and heroin abuse. Overdoses have frighteningly become commonplace. The pain-killer drug addiction in America has become so dire that the government now claims it will take action.

White House Words

It appears that a commission has been launched to try and diffuse our rampant drug addiction crisis in this country. President Trump appointed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to chair a special commission. Their efforts will be aimed at battling the epidemic. They expect to work with law enforcement officials on local and state levels. Additionally, the plan is to work along side medical communities as well.

Governor Christie spoke about opioid and heroin use in our country as an epidemic. He also added, “Addiction is a disease. We need to treat it that way and we need to get people the help that they need to renew their lives and help become productive members of society and our families.”

The Rise in Use is a Killer

Between 1999 and 2014, the sale of opioid-based pain prescriptions quadrupled. As you may have read in Dr. Campbell’s newsletters or other GetThrive articles, the effects of this increase has been deadly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of unintentional death amongst Americans is prescription pill and heroin overdose.

Prescription pain killer abusers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin than anyone else—even those addicted to alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine.

Latest Research

A study conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health showed the increased prevalence of heroin use amongst whites. Data was analyzed from surveys, which included over 75,000 participants who had used heroin. In the last decade, the percentage of addicts in the white population has increased significantly more than in non-white populations.

Another important revelation from this research was a definite link between misusing prescription opioids and eventual heroin use. In 2001, approximately 35% of heroin users had originally used prescription pain pills before graduating to heroin. By 2013, the data showed that over 50% of heroin addicts abused opioids prior to using heroin.

Clearly, there exists a need for greater awareness of the potential devastating effects of misusing opioid-based pain pills. Educational campaigns would certainly be beneficial. Hopefully, Washington’s plan to involve itself in battling this epidemic will also affect some success. This is a real problem and exploring alternatives for pain management is a positive action.

Am I Addicted?

If you or any of your loved ones have taken opioid-based medication (such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, or fentanyl), there are signs to observe if you’re concerned about addiction.

-You may be dependent because you feel withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take another pill.

– Even if your drug use is negatively affecting your job and/or relationships, you continue to take it (because the need to take it is controlling you.)

– You have less or no interest in activities you used to greatly enjoy.

– A lot of your money is being redirected to the cost of your medication (or heroin).

– You are committing illegal or unethical acts to get the drugs you need.

There is help if you are concerned for yourself or for another. Reach out to one of the many resources you can find online or through your healthcare provider. There is no shame in asking for assistance. We can all use some help now and then.