Opiate addiction is one of the leading public healthcare concerns in the US. Every year, hundreds of people die due to accidental drug overdose. The problem has reached such an alarming rate and scale that it’s referred to as the “opiate epidemic.”
The most distressing part of this epidemic is the rising number of deaths due to prescription drugs. It is important to understand that opiate addiction in the US is not like any other drug addiction. A number of people who die every year due to drug overdose don’t even abuse illicit drugs. This makes opiates deadlier than any other drugs.
Understanding the US Opiate Epidemic
The opiate epidemic affects people from all walks of life in every demographic. Teens to seniors, everyone is at risk. Even babies of mothers who abuse opiates during pregnancy are at risk of addiction and going through withdrawal. This is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) and is just one ugly side of the opiate epidemic in the US.
For a huge population of people, opiate addiction starts with prescription drugs. They start taking drugs suggested by the doctor and before they know it, they are hooked to them. The most common opiates approved by FDA are painkillers. Keep in mind that opiate refers to any drug that is derived from or is related to opium. So, by the time the individual realizes the effects of using opiates regularly, it’s already too late. At this point, many people turn to illicit drugs like heroin. The withdrawal effects can be severe and often end in heroin addiction if proper treatment is not provided.
To this date, opiate addiction has affected not only thousands of individuals but also a colossal number of families, and society as a whole. This makes it essential to eradicate the US opiate epidemic. Every year, the government allocates thousands of dollars to fight the crisis.
In 2018, President Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse was revealed. It is a 3 step action plan which targets the root causes of the problem. The first part involves measures to reduce the demand and over-prescription of opioid drugs. The second part focuses on cutting down the production and supply of illicit drugs all around the country through various crackdown operations. The final step, Part 3, is to help those already struggling with addiction and bring them back to a healthy lifestyle by providing evidence-based treatments and support for recovery.
What You Can Do
While the government is taking measures to put an end to the US opiate epidemic for good, every individual citizen has a part to play as well. It is important to understand that the epidemic is not one man’s problem. Everyone is equally at risk and everyone can play a part in eradicating the opiate epidemic once and for all. Here are a few things that you can do to play your part.
Administer the Use of Prescribed Drugs
This is perhaps the most important part. If you are taking prescription drugs or know someone who does, make sure you administer its use. It is important to understand that drug resistance can build up in the body due to regular use. However, increasing the dosage without proper medical consultation is never a good idea. Always talk to your doctor before starting on any prescription medicine.
Also, it is good to learn as much about the medicines as you can to make sure you know all the potential risks involved. Remember, administering the use of prescribed drugs is a preventative measure that can keep you from getting stuck in the downward spiral of addiction.
Know the Signs of Abuse
Knowing the signs and dangers of opiate addiction can help you seek help before it’s too late. Whether you notice these signs for yourself or your loved ones, it is essential to seek professional help immediately to stop any further damage.
- Unexplained drowsiness
- Inability to stop using opioid drugs
- Severe craving for prescribed drugs
- Weight loss
- Isolation from friends and family and loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Frequent flu-like symptoms
- Unexplained financial difficulties
- Decreased libido
- Insomnia or other changes in sleeping habits
- Lack of hygiene
Know the Signs of Drug Overdose
Knowing the signs of a drug overdose can help you save lives. If you notice these signs, call emergency services immediately. Keep in mind that every second counts. Therefore, seek help immediately.
- Vomiting or gurgling noises from the throat
- If the person’s face is extremely pale or clammy to touch
- The body goes limp
- Fingernails or lips turn blue or purple
- Shallow breathing or slow heartbeat
- Unable to wake up or speak
These are the most common signs of a drug overdose. It pays to know about what signs to look for so that you can call for help immediately.
Seek Professional Help
If you or someone you know is struggling through opiate addiction, it is advisable to seek professional help. Keep in mind that addiction doesn’t go away on its own. You will need medical help to put an end to it and return to a normal and healthy lifestyle.
There are multiple national and international detox centers and addiction recovery centers that you can look into. They offer various programs that are tailored to meet the needs of different people. Opt for a gram that suits you the best. Keep in mind that your doctor may use administered drugs to help you through detox and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Remember, while it is essential to put an end to opiate addiction, make sure you don’t try to do it on your own. Always seek medical help as going cold turkey can lead to severe and even fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Create Awareness and Remove Stigma
Finally, you can play your part by creating awareness about the risks and effects of opiate addiction and removing the stigma attached to it. Addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a sign of weakness, rather a biological process. Reach out to those struggling with addiction and help them get their life on track!