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The Rise of Opiate Abuse in the United States

The abuse of opiates such as morphine, codeine, and heroin and their use as a pain reliever is becoming a global concern that needs to be addressed. Opiate abuse affects the health, economic, and social welfare of the people in the United States. An estimation of about 30 million people worldwide abuse drugs and the United States is among the leading countries with approximately 3 million opiate addicts. 

The consequences of drug abuse have been on the rise. It is surprising that unintentional overdose numbers resulting to deaths is also on the increase in the United States. Doctors use these drugs for pain relievers but if you take an overdose, you may end up dying or becoming an addict. A significant number of people particularly abuse the drug, resulting in addiction or death due to excessive intake. 

Statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that prescription opiates have resulted in about two million addicts in the United States. You should use opiates as a pain reliever as recommended by the doctor to avoid addition. The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains that between 2001 and 2009, there was a tremendous increase in the number of opiate addicts by 70%. The increase is attributed to the rise in the number of prescriptions of opiate use during the same period. 

Research conducted by the CDC also shows that heroin is the commonly used illegal opiate in the United States. The primary prescription opiates such as methadone, OxyContin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Codeine, and Fentanyl. Abusing these medications can easily lead to addiction and death. The research also points out that opiate dependency also affects a significant number of medical practitioners. About 29% of people in the United States above 12 have used these prescription drugs without a professional recommendation.

It is surprising that the research found out that about 5% of high school students have tried OxyContin at least once, and 10% of seniors have used Vicodin, a prescription drug without a doctor’s advice. The consistent increase in prescription opiate drugs abuse can be attributed to their availability in local pharmacies.

The United States courts have linked the majority of criminal activities with the abuse of prescription opiate drugs. Opiate addiction increases criminal activities (as a user needs money to afford their habit and do so by petty crimes and theft to sell for cash) in the society, and one of the possible ways to maintain law and order is to mitigate drug abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 36 states in the United States now have Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs with the objective of mitigating their abuse and maintaining law and order. The program has the responsibility of tracking the dispensing and prescription of such drugs to contain the misuse of opiate prescription drugs.


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