Not too long ago, cuneiform clay tablet from the ancient civilization of Sumer dating back to 3400 BC was discovered. The image on that tablet is considered the first written evidence describing the opiate poppy. Sumer was in the region of the modern-day southern Iraq and the words on that tablet describe the opiate poppy as “the joy plant.”
The opiate poppy may have supposedly brought joy to the Sumerians. However, its use in modern times in the form of heroin and opioid painkillers like oxycodone has resulted in a widespread epidemic that has been plaguing the whole of the United States.
In merely the recent past couple of weeks, opioid overdoses have resulted in several different deaths across the country. Two sisters recently died from heroin overdoses on the same day in different locations of Farmington, New Mexico. In just a single day, a 20-year-old woman suffered from two heroin doses in Jackson, Mississippi. A male heroin user from Detroit of unknown age died as a result of an overdose.
It is obvious that the epidemic continues to skyrocket and spread. In Michigan alone, twice as many opioid overdoses have occurred in recent times when compared to those a decade or so ago, back in 2009. The U.S. Surgeon General has revealed that 78 opioid overdose-related deaths take place in the United States on a daily basis. Back in 2015, more people had died from heroin overdoses than as a result of gun homicides.
Clinics have become “pill mills.” However, the source of this epidemic can be traced back to companies like McKesson Corporation that manufacture and distribute these drugs. In January 2017, McKesson received an order to shut down its distribution centers in Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio. They had apparently also mishandled their distribution of opioids, and did not take the right measures to ensure suspicious orders could be discovered and reported, so they were fined $150 million. Only 16 out of 1.6 million orders of controlled substances processed at McKesson’s Colorado site were flagged as suspicious.
It is a well-known fact that heroin is cheaper than opioid painkilling medications that are commonly available. Once addicted to these pills, it does not take long for people to realize this as well and so they switch over to heroin. 75% of the people suffering from heroin addiction had initially become addicted to prescription opioids as a result of abusing them. The more physically and psychologically dependent these people become on prescription opioids, the higher the chances become for them to switch over to using heroin.
Moreover, it does not take much time for an addiction to opioids to develop. Generally, dopamine is released when opiates are consumed. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, an organic chemical in the human brain that stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, namely the limbic system. This part of the human brain is also stimulated when people get high, so the addiction to opioids should make sense.
Serious treatment becomes necessary in order to effectively put an end to this cycle of addiction, without which it can be nearly impossible. Detoxification from opiates is often not enough and in more than 90% of the cases, the addicts who have supposedly been cured end up relapsing. Hence, intensive treatment is essential.