What Is The Opioid Epidemic?
The Opioid Epidemic is one of the worst public health crisis' in America to date -- but what is it? And why?
In short, there is no short, nor all encompassing answer to these questions.
This introduction post will provide a very surface level overview of what the Opioid Epidemic/Crisis is and the detriment it has caused.
- Very few people who have lost their lives or lost themselves to opioids began taking opioids with the intent of becoming an addict.
- While the opioid crisis has persisted for over two decades, many of the reasons it remains pervasive coincide with, or are a direct result of the reasons it started. For instance, the push from pharmaceutical companies to prescribe opioids ultimately led to a much later push – in the opposite direction.
-In 2016, a new push was implemented regarding the prescription of pain medication though this time, it was a War On Drugs based push to make physicians prescribe less painkillers.
- Painkiller (opioid) prescribing was heavily encouraged, but very quickly became a painkiller crackdown once the detrimental effects of addiction and accidental overdose could no longer be ignored. Individuals across the country who had been taking overprescribed opioid medications became caught in a crossfire.
- This catalyzed what has become one of the most driving forces in the opioid epidemic; those who had been heavily prescribed these medications were suddenly barred from receiving them, presenting them with two choices to avoid painful withdrawl: search for prescription pills on the street which typically cost $1/milligram, or, seek out a different yet similar drug at one tenth of the price of street painkillers - heroin.
-The opioid epidemic has also grown at such a velocity due to legalization in various states of America legalizing marijuana. In the past, Mexico was one of the main providers for marijuana in America.
-Prior to legalizations of marijuana in the United States, Mexico was the main provider of marijuana in the states. When the laws did pass, however, the demand for marijuana from Mexico decreased exponentially and they had to turn to a new means of making money - namely, the poppy plant (where opium/ opioids derive).
-Unfortunately, one of the post prominent reasons for the ongoing and consistently growing prevalence of the opioid epidemic is something which comes from within ourselves – the invincibility complex.
In the past two decades:
- Painkiller prescriptions have raised 400%
- Admissions into addiction recovery facilities raised 600%, far surpassing any time in history.
- Accidental deaths resulting from prescribed painkillers has nearly tripled.
In America, 2019:
- More than 60,000 Americans are killed by a drug overdose each year greater than 140 people per day.
* This number surpasses that of the deaths during the Vietnam War (58,000), the number of AIDS deaths in 1995 (43,000), 8x the amount of people who died In the American Revolution, and exceeds the number of traffic related deaths In 2017 (40,000).*
- 2.5 million Americans are addicted to opioids but fewer than 50% of private sector treatment programs offer medications for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and only one-third of patients in those programs receive them.