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Opiate Addiction Affects All Ages and Every Corner of Society

Recognizing the Full Scope of the Havoc That Opiate Addiction Wreaks on Society is Imperative to Combating Addiction

In the past 25 years, the nation has witnessed an alarming increase in prescription narcotics use and abuse. While it cannot be denied that opioid analgesics are powerful medications that help millions of Americans every day, there is a great need to raise awareness about prescription opioid disorder and the opiate addiction that can come as a result. The latest addiction statistics show that as many as two million people suffer from a prescription opioid disorder as of 2015. In that same year, statistics point to more than 33,000 drug overdose deaths that can be attributed to opioid addiction. It's important to truly understand addiction, how it begins, where it can lead, and the steps to take to fight it.

How does opiate addiction begin?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse's page on the opioid crisis, which contains extensive opiate addiction statistics, states problem began in the early 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies exerted tremendous pressure on medical professionals to prescribe opiates for pain management, offering assurances that the addiction potential wasn't high. Between 1991 and 2014, the figures of opiates dispensed in retail pharmacies nearly tripled. The US stood out as the biggest consumer of opiates in the world.

It soon became evident that the effects were catastrophic. Each year, opioid addiction becomes a bigger problem and number of drug overdose deaths get worse. The latest figures in opiate addiction statistics show that between 21 and 29% of people who receive opiate prescriptions misuse them. 8 to 12% go on to develop a prescription disorder. What's worse, a staggering 80% of heroin users started off with a prescription to opiates.

What are the large-scale effects of opiate addiction?

Addiction takes its toll in every facet of society. The CDC estimates that addiction costs America $78.5 billion a year in economic burden. That takes into account the estimated loss of productivity, public health costs, money spent on treating addiction, and the costs incurred by the legal system.

No one is safe from the dangers of addiction. An estimated 100 million Americans have pain management issues. Although research is underway to develop better and safer medication, opiates are one of the most effective treatments currently available. A number of pain sufferers like that can only mean one thing: everyone is at risk, regardless of socioeconomic background and age.

What can be done?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services response to the opioid crisis includes:

  • Focusing on better access to addiction treatment
  • Incentivizing the use of drugs that aid in reversing overdoses
  • Promoting better approaches to pain management, through protocol and research

Where do we go from here?

In times like these, it behooves everyone to do their part. Addiction is a tough spot to be in and anyone can fall prey to it. It's everyone's duty to stay vigilant about themselves and those around them. The first step is educating oneself on the warning signs of prescription opiate disorder before it becomes an addiction, including:

  • Drug cravings
  • Difficulty in controlling usage
  • Trouble keeping social, professional, and personal commitments
  • Developing tolerance
  • Facing legal trouble as a result of the medication
  • Experiencing opiate withdrawal

If you recognize any of these indicators in yourself or someone close to you, don't ignore them. Stopping addiction dead on its tracks may seem like a daunting task, but there's hope in sight. It's always better to get ahead of the situation. If you need help or advice for overcoming addiction, call the Alcohol Treatment Centers Richmond at 804.441.9980.

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