In 1996 The American Pain Society declared pain the fifth vital sign, and the pain measurement became a part of a clinical visit. The pharmaceutical companies grabbed the chance and funded lobbies to ease the regulation of opioids and promoted the use of opioids to treat the pain by fooling the patients and overstating the safety of these medicines.
Approximately one out of five high school seniors admitted to misuse prescription opioids at least once in their lifetime. The opioid epidemic is one of the biggest public health crisis of recent times. In 2014, more than 28,000 people lose their lives because of opioid overdose (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin). At least half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.
There are several reasons which led to this situation:
Over Prescription and Misguidance: Pharmaceuticals companies misguided the doctors and patients by overstating the safety of prescription drugs. Marketing campaigns and personal benefits led doctors to recommend opioids even for minor injuries, accidents, pain and other cases. This resulted in a huge number of opioid abusers over the period of time.
Easy Access and Low-Risk Perception: Opioid epidemic is a silent killer which does not typically happen on the streets like other drugs. It strikes right in the alley of common American houses. Teenagers and adults crashed into the medical cabinet of their parents and relatives and accessed drugs from there.
Party and Recreational Use: Most of the opioid abusers states that they were given the drugs by their friends and colleagues at parties. Prescription pills have become an integral part of teenagers’ and young adults’ parties. They start using the drugs for recreational purposes and then they have it to get rid of stress and worries. Thus, they get hooked.
Self-Medication: Most people are not aware of the addictive nature and side effects of opioids, once they are given opioids to treat their injuries or pains. They start taking these drugs without consulting their doctors and then get hooked. Some people develop a high level of dependency on the prescription pills. People have admitted that they take as much as 30 pills to function properly.
Single Window Pain Management: As per a report, more than 100 million American have common chronic pain condition. There are several methods like Yoga, Stretching, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture and more to treat minor to major pains. But the single window approach of prescribing the opioids have created a big pool of dependent patients. They have to take pills to ward off their pain and perform their daily routine. The misuse of prescription pills has caused access problem for genuine patients who are suffering from cancer and other chronic pains. It has sparked a debate across the nation, even this epidemic has dented the credibility of doctors and other healthcare professionals. Pharmaceutical organizations have spent millions of dollars as the bribe to encourage doctors to prescribe opioids.
The Opioid epidemic is a unique public health crisis that has spread to the every part (urban, suburban and rural area) of the country. Addiction is still a taboo in our society, people still shy away from discussing the addiction problems. This is the high time we need to recognize the issue, spread awareness and talk about this. Government and authorities are working on decriminalization and destigmatization of addiction. People need to be loved and cared of to break the shackles of addiction.
Michael Jackson, Prince, Heath Ledger and others, there is a long list of celebrities who lost their lives to opioid and other drug addictions. This addiction is different from other addictions because all these individuals gradually slipped into the grip of addiction on the recommendations of their doctors and lost their lives despite having the access to the best treatments. People get bankrupt and go debt-ridden to fulfill their addiction needs and when they do not have money to get opioids they turn to heroin which is dirt cheap and a horrific drug. A fall in the opioid overdose deaths has been observed on the other hand a sharp rise in heroin overdose has been seen too. People with heroin problems are always exposed to several life-threatening diseases like HIV, Hepatitis, Collapsed Veins and more. Sometimes medicines become addiction we need to understand this and avoid opioids as long as we can.
Opioid addiction is not the end of the tunnel. There are several top quality treatment centers that provide personalized and effective treatment. Professionals have important roles in the recovery of opioid abuse problems.