Every day, opioid painkillers like hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone lead to the death of around forty-four people in the United States because of overdoses. The fact that these painkillers happen to be opioids means that they contain heroin, which per the latest information and research is contributing to the heroin and opioid epidemic. Per a former addict, the epidemic literally results in deaths daily.
One of the reason Americans have been getting addicted to opioids, and quite often, dying from overdoses, is because these powerful painkillers are legally and so readily available. Even though these pain medications are effective for their medicinal purpose, but it does not take long for the individual using them to begin abusing and misusing them, leading to addiction.
Back in 2012, opioid medications were legally prescribed over quarter of a billion times. Even doctors have agreed that despite their effectiveness, opioid painkillers can end up being a gateway to other detrimental drugs, like heroin. In fact, four out of five people who are currently addicted to heroin had started with taking prescription pain medications for a genuine medicinal purpose. In such cases, neither the doctor nor the patient is to be blamed, rather more awareness needs to be raised about the evidence base.
Opioids are present in many prescription painkillers. The human central nervous system has opiate receptors and opioids in these medications bind to those receptors, which minimizes the pain that is being experienced by a patient. No doubt, if a patient takes a prescription opioid painkiller in proper dosages, these medications are generally safe. However, the fact remains that addiction may also develop because of an increase in the patient’s tolerance with the medications, which makes them quite risky.
People taking prescription opioid medications may not instantly feel like they are beginning to get addicted to the drugs. Rather, it is a gradual process and it takes time for the tolerance to develop and strengthen over time. Eventually though, once these people just want to consume more and more opioid painkillers and they cannot get them anymore, they then turn to drugs like heroin. Thus, not even drug traffics rings are responsible for introducing these people to heroin and opioids. In most of these cases, the opioids are right there in their own medicine cabinets.
Fortunately, new research has been conducted amidst the widespread of the epidemic and doctors have managed to discover alternate options. According to these doctors, pain can also be effectively treated with anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, gabapentin and pregabalin, as well as antidepressants like duloxetine, all of which are not opioids.
Another issue is the opioid prescription training that has been and is still being provided in medical schools, which is simply not up to the mark. Medical schools need to improve the education they are providing to currently practicing and new doctors. Not only should doctors be able to help prevent overdose deaths, they should also be capable enough offer prompt treatment to addicts who are in dire need.
In the United States, there has been a sudden rise in the rates of overdose-related deaths among Americans aged 25 to 34. Inherently, it is prescription opioid painkilling medications that have caused opioid-related overdose deaths to spiral out of control.