The opioid epidemic in America is a serious issue that has been largely ignored. In the past few weeks, there have been declines in the number of cases being reported, but they have stalled and not gone down. What does this mean? It means that people are still getting addicted to opioids and overdosing at alarming rates. The ERs are packed with these patients who need help immediately. What is the cause of this epidemic? What makes opioid addiction so common in people? There are many reasons why people turn to opioids, but what can we do about it?
Over the past few years, doctors have been prescribing painkillers more than ever. These prescriptions include Vicodin, Oxycodone and Percocet among others. These are opioid painkillers, also known as opiates. Opioid addiction is common because they are so accessible and addictive. When these drugs enter the brain, chemicals result in feelings of euphoria which cause the patient to develop an addiction similar to that of hard drugs like cocaine . Unfortunately, opioids have side effects including nausea, vomiting and constipation. The side effects become so bad that the patient needs more opioids just to feel better.
In an attempt to get rid of these negative side effects, doctors have been prescribing a drug called Suboxone . Suboxone includes Buprenorphine and Naloxone which work together to eliminate withdrawal symptoms from opioid addiction while preventing a person from getting high. Suboxone has been labelled as a safer alternative to methadone and doctors have been more likely to prescribe it. The problem is that people who take these drugs become dependent and addicted quickly and they develop a tolerance, needing higher doses of the drug just to feel relief. After taking opioids for some time, patients find themselves no longer able to feel better even if they take the drug.
Over time, opioid addiction causes personal problems for people including trouble at work and in school, financial issues and health problems. More importantly, opioid addiction can cause depression and other mental illnesses . These drugs change a person’s brain chemistry which leads to a number of issues. However, there are ways to treat opioid addiction.
When a person stops using opioids, withdrawal symptoms are horrible including depression, anxiety, irritability and pain . The worst part is that the only thing stopping these symptoms is more opioids. Opioid addiction can be treated by replacing an opioid drug with Suboxone or methadone followed by therapy sessions including therapy, 12 step programs and counseling sessions. These methods have been proven to work effectively in getting a person’s life back on track.
Opioid addiction is very common in America because opioid painkillers are so widely available and easily accessible. People get addicted quickly because opioids change brain chemistry which leads to a number of issues including depression, anxiety and suicide . There are ways to treat opioid addiction by replacing one drug with another followed by therapy sessions. Opioid addiction is being treated more seriously, but it will take time to lower the number of addicts in America.