The origins of the opioid epidemic can be traced to the 1990s, when the first time-released opioid pain relievers entered the market, pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community they were not addictive and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at a rapid rate.
By the time it became clear that opioids are indeed addictive, the misuse of both prescription and illegal opioids was rampant across the country, and in 2017 the Department of Health and Humas Services had declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid crisis.
Today, millions of people are dependent on these dangerous painkillers and more than 130 people die every day from opioid overdose. These numbers – from the National Center for Health Statistics and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health – paint a grim picture:
Opioids are very effective pain relievers that work by binding to receptors in the brain and central nervous system to block the transmission of pain signals. They are often prescribed by physicians to help a patient manage pain after surgery or an accident.
It’s easy to become physically and psychologically dependent on opioids, however, and people who become addicted often seek out more opioids after their prescription runs out. Opioid addicts often resort to drastic behavior to get more pills – seeing a different doctor to get a new prescription, forging prescriptions, getting pills from family members or friends, or as a last resort, seeking out illegal opioids from drug dealers.
Besides the serious health implications, an opioid addiction can have a profound impact on the lives of the user and those around them. The CDC estimates that the economic impact of opioid abuse is $78 billion a year, because of increased health care costs, lost productivity, addiction treatment costs and criminal justice involvement.
Other issues that can be attributed to the fallout from opioid abuse include:
The terms opiates and opioids are often used interchangeably, but they have slightly different meanings. Opiates are natural opioids that come from the opium alkaloid compounds found in poppy plants. These include heroin, codeine and morphine.
The term opioids refer to all forms of opiates, both natural and synthetic, and includes those that can be manufactured in a lab. Examples of synthetic opioids include fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone, among others. Fentanyl, which is 100 times stronger than morphine, is an especially dangerous synthetic opioid that is often used by drug dealers to “spike” other drugs. It is largely responsible for the increase in opioid overdoses and deaths.
Opioids are highly addictive in nature, so it’s easy to develop a dependence with sustained use. When someone uses opioids regularly, they develop a tolerance. In these cases, if they stop using opioids for even a short period, they experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and abdominal cramping.
Other signs of an opioid addiction include:
As a person’s addiction grows stronger, so does their tolerance, and the risk of an overdose increases because they begin taking larger doses more frequently to get the same effect. Someone who is overdosing on opioids may experience shallow breathing, unresponsiveness, vomiting, and constricted pupils. If you see these symptoms, get medical help immediately.
As a fully accredited treatment facility for opioid addiction, Golden Peak Recovery provides a full continuum of care for opioid addiction treatment. We conduct a thorough assessment of your physical and mental health, taking into consideration any co-occurring disorders such and anxiety or depression that may contribute to your addiction, and create an individualized recovery plan tailored to meet your specific needs.
If you require a medical detox, you have around-the-clock care and supervision to ensure you get through this process as safely and comfortably as possible. Depending on the severity of your addiction, we may administer buprenorphine or methadone, two prescription drugs that can help ease withdrawal symptoms. It normally takes about five to seven days for the majority of the symptoms to dissipate.
Following detox, our counselors and therapists use holistic, evidence-based drug addiction treatments to identify the root causes of your substance abuse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a very effective therapy for addiction treatment, shows you how to replace negative behaviors with healthy alternatives. You learn life skills and coping mechanisms that give you better outlets when faced with triggering situations. We also offer aftercare programs that provide the support you need to stay sober after your rehab is complete.