Opiates: The Real Countrywide Epidemic

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Over the last few years, America’s growing drug epidemic has been front and center in many news reports and has been constant on social media. It seems rare that a day goes by when we as a nation don’t hear about the dramatic surge in substance abuse in our country. Additionally, we often hear about the tremendous personal and financial toll drug abuse has had in the United States. Of all the drugs that people are concerned with, none has garnered more attention than heroin and prescription painkillers.

The use of these opiate drugs has reached crisis level in certain parts of our country. Because of this fact,  lawmakers, law enforcement, healthcare professionals, and citizens alike are struggling to come up with solutions to try and turn the tide of abuse. While it may not be something we want to see and hear, it is important to truly understand the scope of the opiate crisis in the United States and learn of the ways that legislative bodies and other groups are trying to get help and support to those who need it the most.

Are you or a loved one struggling with an opiate addiction? Pick up the phone at call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center toll-free and learn of all our treatment options that will help you get and stay sober.

America’s Heroin Problem

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The dramatic surge in heroin use, overdoses, and deaths in the United States has been well documented. Once seen as a problem that was confined to urban areas, heroin use has dramatically spread to all corners of American society. According to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) that was featured in a TIME Magazine last year:

…heroin use increased 63% between 2002 and 2013, and heroin-related overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. In 2013 an estimated 517,000 people reported that they had used heroin in the last year or had a heroin-related dependence, a 150% increase from 2007.

Once thought of an addiction that primarily affected minority population, the new face of heroin addiction is white, suburban, in their 20’s and earning an average median income of less than $20,000. It has also been reported that 28 states have seen fatal heroin overdose deaths double from 2010-2012.

The dramatic rise in heroin use in the United States can be attributed to two things. First, the increase in heroin use can be attributed to tightening restrictions on the distribution of prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin by state legislatures as well as increasing law enforcement crackdowns on illegal “pill mills” which illegally manufacture these medications. Secondly, there has been a significant increase in cheaper and more potent heroin that is originating from Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

Prescription Painkillers: America’s Silent Epidemic

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While America’s growing heroin epidemic has garnered the lion’s share of the headlines, the abuse of synthetic opiates such as prescription painkillers has also caused great concern. According to a CDC report published in 2012, healthcare providers had written nearly 260 million prescriptions for painkilling medications.

The prescription painkiller epidemic is part of the larger prescription pill problem that has been plaguing the United States. The following information is provided in a report and infographic Popping Pills: Prescription Drug Abuse in America:

  • 6.1 million Americans over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically in the last month.
  • The United States only comprises 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes 75% of all prescription medications, including prescription opiates.
  • Of the 8.76 million prescription drug abusers in the United States, 5.1 million abused painkillers.

Opiate painkillers have been used for centuries for pain management, and are effective when taken as prescribed and when under medical supervision, However, these drugs are highly addictive and many who take them for legitimate medical reasons can often end up using them for longer than intended.

What is Being Done?

With opiate abuse and overdoses reach crisis levels in the United States, there are grassroots groups who feel that not enough is being done to address this issue. For example, the FED UP! The coalition recently held a protest to express their dissatisfaction in the way President Obama had handled the heroin and prescription painkiller problems. In an article which run in the August 26th edition of the Forbes online magazine:

This week members from the national group started a petition urging the president to take action. In the letter, the organization accuses Obama’s administration of neglecting the “nation’s opioid addiction epidemic” and failing to “ensure our federal agencies work together in a coordinated fashion to address this problem.” More than 1,400 supporters have signed the document since this weekend.

In the same article, it was noted that the Obama administration unveiled a new plan designed to tackle the problem by diminishing heroin trafficking and increasing support prevention efforts. As part of the plan, the U.S. Office Of National Drug Control Policy will appropriate $5 million of the $13.4 million in total funding to High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).

In regards to the prescription painkiller and drug problem, the Obama administration has included in the 2016 budget allocations for additional funding to states with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) as well as expanding and improving treatment for addicts. There has also been increasing efforts to make naloxone, an opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of an overdose, more readily available to first responders, law enforcement, and in certain cases ordinary citizens.

Opiate Addiction is a Major Issue, But There is Help!

If you, a family member or a loved one is addicted to opiates such as heroin or prescription painkillers, it is necessary that you seek drug treatment immediately. As one of the premier drug treatment centers in Florida, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center features excellent drug treatment programming that is effective, proven to help you kick your addiction and is backed by scientific study. Our experienced staff can create an individualized drug treatment plan that will perfectly suit your unique recovery needs. Your addiction to opiates will not get better on its’ own; you must take action and call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today.

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