Rx Opioid Addition/Withdrawal is Described as ‘Hell on Earth’
A recent report by the US Surgeon General revealed more Americans now use Rx opioids than smoke cigarettes. These drugs also kill more Americans than car crashes.
Over the past 5 years, drug overdose deaths have risen by 33%.
Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that, “We know of no other medication routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently.”
In Y 2015, 27-M Americans used illegal drugs and/or misused Rx drugs, and addiction to opioids and heroin now costs the US more than $193-B each year.
According to Dr. Frieden, studies show that addiction affects about 26% of those using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. Worse, 1 in 550 patients on opioid therapy die from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their 1st prescription.
According to the latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), life expectancy for both men and women dropped between Y’s 2014 and 2015, for the 1st time in 20 years, and overdose deaths appear to be part of the problem.
In all, more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in Y 2015, a rise of 11% from Y 2014.
There are safe options to treat pain, but education is lacking.
This is why I write about this issue, so spread the word.
Too many people in the prime of their life are losing it to painkiller addiction, and often they just had no idea a Rx painkiller for a temporary injury or pain would send them into the Hell of drug addiction.
In the video, created by STAT News, a former opioid addict named Matt Ganem explains the process of withdrawal from opiates such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine.
“It’s physical torture; it’s mental torture,” Mr. Ganem says. “You’re literally coming undone at the seams; you’re crawling out of your skin.”
The drug works by attaching itself to opioid receptors in your brain, thereby blocking pain signals. This also has the effect of creating a sensation of pleasure or euphoria, and addiction.
Over time they can also result in increased pain perception, setting into motion a cycle where you need increasingly larger doses, making a lethal overdose more likely.
Oxycontin’s high rate of addiction is the result of a short half-life the amount of time the drug stays in your system before one is left wanting more.
Opioids also affect bodily functions such as respiration and heart rate, either slowing them down or speeding them up.
Blood pressure is often acutely reduced, which raises your risk of a stroke.
As explained in the video, over time, your body gets used to functioning at a slower rate. When you cease the drug, your hippocampus gets overactive, causing anxiety, panic and erratic thoughts.
The hypothalamus also starts malfunctioning, causing extreme sweating. Vomiting and/or diarrhea are also common side effects during the withdrawal phase.
And, as one’s previously blocked pain receptors begin to reactivate in the absence of the drug, severe agonizing pain sets in, then seizures can occur.
The Big Q: Who can get addicted to Opioids?
The Big A: It can happen to anyone.
STAT News’ special report, “52 Weeks, 52 Faces” features obituaries of people who lost their lives to opioid addiction.
The faces above and the stories of the victims are a snapshot of the devastating opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States.
As the death toll from the opioid crisis mounts, families are increasingly weaving desperate warnings into the obituaries of loved ones about the horror that can result when people abuse painkillers, heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl …
The victims were found in the woods, in a low-budget hotel, a dorm room and at home. On the same day in June, two brothers fatally overdosed. In November, a mother lost a 3rd son to an opioid overdose.
Those who succumbed to opioids were also full of hope and promise. They served our country in the Armed Forces. They were college students, aspiring musicians, athletes, chefs, a race car driver, a high school student, an auto mechanic, a bank employee and the son of a former US Congressman.
Today’s drug users look like you and me. They look like your best friend, your mother or grandfather. They include teens and seniors, the wealthy and the poor.
A recent article in The WP highlighted the dramatic rise of drug addiction in rural America.
During a single fateful day in the little city of Chillicothe, Ohio, 7 children were taken into government custody after their parents overdosed on these drugs; one of the parents died. The local coroner likened the state of affairs to a “zombie apocalypse.”
Addiction also frequently affects several generations of the same family, from kids to grandparents.
In fact, drug addiction among seniors is more common than ever before. According to 1 recent study, 15% of seniors on Medicare are prescribed an opioid upon discharge following an acute hospitalization and 42% of them are still taking the drug 3 months later, suggesting addiction may be an issue.
Native Americans and Caucasians have the highest rate of death from opioids; 8.4 and 7.9 per 100,000 people respectively.
African Americans, Latinos and Asians are less affected by this epidemic, with 3.3, 2.2 and 0.7 per 100,000 dying from painkillers respectively.
This shifting demographic of users has led to a change in how people view drug addiction.
In Y 2001, 45% of Americans supported tough drug laws where users were simply sent to jail, and most of the federal spending relating to drug abuse was spent on law enforcement.
In Y 2015, 67% of Americans said they support treatment over incarceration for drug addicts, and the Y 2017 federal budget includes $14.3-B for treatment, compared to $9.5-B for drug law enforcement.
Oxycontin and other opioid painkillers have been identified as the primary gateway drugs to heroin, and the transition from Rx opioids to street heroin is an easy one.
It is a story addicts tell over and over again.
Physical addiction to opioids drives behavior to seek more of the same drug. When a Rx runs out, a physician refuses to renew, or the cost of the prescription becomes too high to manage, many addicts turn to heroin.
Chemically, these drugs are very similar and they provide a similar kind of high.
Without additives, street heroin is as dangerous as Oxycontin, and just as addictive. But, when dealers cut the drug with other drugs, the result may be deadly. In just days in August, 2016, 174 overdoses of heroin were recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio, the largest number of overdoses in 1 week on record.
So, it very important to be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs, and to seriously weigh your need for them. There are many other ways to address pain. And, there are times when pain is so severe that a narcotic pain reliever may be warranted.
But even in those instances, the options that follow may allow you to at least reduce the amount you take, or the frequency at which you need to take them.
Experts say, that you are in pain that is bearable, seek out other options 1st before resorting to Rx painkillers of any kind.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively