As opiates take the reign as the leading cause of accidental death surpassing car accidents, everyone is trying to find out how to deal with such a serious issue. Law enforcement and health department officials are working together to create town hall meetings to educate the public on opioid abuse. Communities are seeing increases in crime due to the rise in opiate abuse. Local governments are telling their community to lock their doors and keep valuables locked away to keep addicts from stealing things to sell for drugs.
Open any newspapers and you will see the direct effects of the opiate epidemic. The number of overdoses from these drugs continues to climb, and the ages of the people overdosing continues to drop. This leaves parents terrified of the possibility that their children may experiment with these drugs. What is most disturbing is that young teens are not buying these drugs in some sort of shady drug deal. Most are getting these pills from their own homes.
Hydrocodone, a narcotic painkiller, is the most prescribed medication in the United States. Most homes will have someone who was prescribed these medications for some sort of accident, injury or dental work. Many of the patients who receive these medications will not take it in it's entirety. This leaves left over pills in the cabinet which can easily be taken by curious teenagers or family members.
These pills need to be treated like a loaded gun, because they are just as deadly. Many parents never think that their child would take something like that from them. Parents need to understand that these pills are in high demand and peer pressure from classmates is a powerful motivator. It is very upsetting to hear about teens who first tried painkillers that were found in their own homes and have since graduated to heroin.
The surge of prescription painkiller abuse took place in the mid 2000's and it created an overwhelming amount of crime and addiction. The government tried to catch up with the trend, but the damage had already been severely done. Thousands of lives were lost and those that did not find themselves in recovery were either locked up for crimes related to their use or transitioned to using heroin. Many addicts will switch to heroin because it is much cheaper, and gives a similar high. The reason that heroin is more dangerous is because the potency changes from bag to bag and is cut (or mixed) with many different things. A common reason for an opiate overdose is that a lot of heroin has been cut with a strong painkiller known as Fentanyl. Fentanyl is about 90 times more potent than morphine. When Fentanyl is added to the heroin, even the most seasoned heroin addict can overdose.