In the United States, about 45 people a day and over 16,600 people a year die from overdoses caused by opioids. For every death, 30 people are admitted to hospitals for either an overdose or abuse. Opioids have made there way into every town in the United States, and things are only getting worse.
The numbers of overdoses in small communities around the country are on the rise. Heroin and prescription opioid-based painkillers are to blame for the overwhelming majority. Areas that have never been affected by these issues are seeing high numbers of overdoses. It is leaving many law enforcement and local government officials scrambling for help and searching for answers to this problem.
The FDA has taken steps to curb the abuse linked with prescription opioids by changing the uses of them. Most narcotic painkillers were used for moderate to severe pain. This threshold of pain is wide and fits many ailments. The FDA has looked into only providing narcotic painkillers to patients who are in the severe pain threshold. They also want to shorten the length that each prescription is written for. The 30 day supply of medication will be shortened to 14 days or even 10 days. They believe this will have a positive affect on lowering abuse that would normally lead to addiction and overdose.
With the problem of addiction at epidemic levels, and prescription painkillers with the active ingredient of hydrocodone being the number one prescribed medication in the United States, we have become an opioid induced country. Prescription pills are over-prescribed at alarming rates and the ability to gauge pain has left healthcare professionals with their hands tied. How do you tell if a patient has enough pain to warrant a narcotic painkiller? With the amount of abuse going on, it is unfair to blame all doctors for the over-prescribing of these medications.
Small towns have seen crime skyrocket where crime was never really an issue. This is being directly related to the opioid epidemic. Many young teens begin abusing medications found in their own parents medicine cabinets which can lead to an addiction they have trouble affording. They begin to commit petty thefts and it affects the communities as a whole. After awhile, even with the stealing, they are unable to afford the pain pills and make the switch to heroin. In many towns in the United States, heroin is being sold for as low as $5 a bag. These prices are the lowest seen in decades and the potency of the heroin is high. Heroin users are playing a game of Russian Roulette every time they get high. Never knowing what the heroin is cut with or what the potency is between each bag.
Small communities need to hold public forums and educate the public on the dangers of opioids and the heroin epidemic affecting every town in the U.S. The more people who are aware of how dangerous of an issue this is, the more lives that will be saved.