As busy Americans, we go about our daily routines in a blur.  Sometimes, we get a few minutes to watch the news or take in a good movie.  Unfortunately, most of what we hear and see is lost or forgotten amid the chaos of our lives.  Each day brings a new onslaught of information and challenges to absorb such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.  So, it’s no surprise that most of us aren’t thinking about things like the deaths caused by opioids in America each day.   

More than 180 people die every day from opioid-related causes.  But, that number is predicted to increase during the virus lockdowns.  This can happen for a number of reasons. For instance, someone who is recovering from opioid addiction can’t attend the daily or weekly support meetings.  Many of those venues are closed due to the lockdown, leaving these individuals at risk for relapse.  

Furthermore, opioid abusers increase their doses due to the stress and fear surrounding the pandemic.  These situations can lead to a rise in overdoses and deaths.  Yet, many people are desensitized to this ongoing crisis because it’s not mentioned in today’s news.

Understanding the Prevalence of Opioids in America 

America ranks #1 in opioid consumption and has held that position since 2013.  Other countries with high opioid use, in order of rank, include Canada, Germany, Denmark, and Austria.  Why is our country at the top of that list?  

The prevalence of opioids in America results from a combination of factors that include, but not limited to, the following.

Factors that Contribute to the Opioid Crisis

  • Overprescribing:

People don’t like pain and want a quick fix and it’s not difficult to find a physician who will write a painkiller prescription.  Most people are unaware of the alternative methods of pain relief.  Also, many people don’t want to change their daily routine enough to include exercise or healthy meals. 

  • Mass marketing by pharmaceutical companies:

In the US, pharmaceutical companies spent more than $6.4 billion on advertising in one year alone.  Of course, none of the drugs advertised are opioids.  However, the power of suggestion points to there being a pill for everything.

  • Senior citizens and medications:

Individuals above the age of 60 have a variety of aches, pains, and chronic health conditions.  Many of them are consuming a cocktail of prescriptions each day that includes opioids, sedatives, stimulants, blood pressure meds, diabetes medication, and more.  Combining these drugs can cause severe consequences.

  • Overpriced medications:

The price of prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers has skyrocketed in recent years.  For that reason, some people may turn to less costly drugs such as heroin, which is also an opioid.  Unfortunately, illicit heroin can contain deadly chemicals such as fentanyl, cocaine, meth, or other dangerous chemicals.

With more than 48,400 opioid overdose deaths in our country last year, there’s no doubt that we face a monumental task.  Hopefully, the other issues that consume our time and resources won’t distract us from doing what we can to reduce the use of opioids in America.

What Can We do to Resolve the Opioid Crisis?

Ongoing efforts by our government and thousands of private organizations have worked diligently to lower the opioid statistics.  The numbers have decreased somewhat.  But, much more needs to be done.  For that reason, in 2018, the federal government unveiled plans to help reduce demand and over-prescription of opioids.  The plan involves getting tougher on international and domestic suppliers.  It also seeks to help people who have opioid addictions get the evidence-based treatment and support they need.

It’s possible we will always have issues stemming from opioids in America.  The best we can do is continue education and awareness campaigns and provide affordable treatment.  At New Beginnings, we understand the complexities of opioid addiction and recovery.  If you are ready to overcome addiction, please contact us today.

Sources:

drugabuse.gov – What is an Opioid?

whitehouse.gov – Ending America’s Opioid Crisis