More than 64,0000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2017 in a continued upward trend. The rate has nearly doubled in just 10 years.
What are opioids? What’s fueling this opioid epidemic? Is it happening where I live? Am I at risk?
You probably have a lot of questions.
Let’s explore the answers.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific class of painkillers. This drug class includes illegal drugs like heroin. But it also includes painkillers that can be obtained legally like:
- Oxycodone (Oxycotin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
These drugs interact with the opioid receptors in the brain, causing feelings of relaxation and/or euphoria. This is in addition to their intended purpose of relieving pain.
Are Opioids Inherently Dangerous?
Everyone’s talking about the opioid crisis these days for good reason. When taken as directed, prescribed opioids can be effective at masking symptoms. But they have many side effects like:
- Difficulty thinking
- Shallow breathing
On top of this, taking them as directed isn’t as easy as pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe. These drugs are highly addictive.
People who were on them temporarily may become dependent. A dependent person “feels” like they need it even after they have healed.
This dependence eventually becomes a full-blown addiction.
What may start as genuine pain relief often leads to drug-seeking. Eventually, people purchase on the black market to feed a growing addiction.
People who start out on prescription opioids may turn to heroin when their prescription runs out to get a similar “high” for less money. Around 60% of opioid deaths are not caused by the prescription opioids themselves.
But they often started with people legitimately seeking pain relief.
What’s Feeding the Crisis?
There’s a lot of blame to throw around. Some people blame the doctors who prescribe them. Others the pharmaceutical companies that develop them. And yet others blame the insurers.
The largest issue is the fact that doctors are prescribing these medications to their patients when there are much safer options to relieve pain.
A patient comes in with lower back pain. Instead of discussing how to actually stop the source of the pain, the patient is sent home with a prescription.
Where Is the Opioid Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic isn’t isolated to prominent cities like New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago. It’s all over. You’ll find “hot spots” in states across the nation like New Mexico, West Virginia, Florida and Maine.
Opioids can be found in both the suburbs and the city. They’re found in rural communities and small towns alike.
For teens, the opioid death rate rose 19% between 2010 and 2015. Preventing the flow of drugs into schools has been a high priority over last few years.
You Can Help
The opioid epidemic is growing. But people like you can make a difference.
If you’re using these medications or seeking pain relief, know that there are better and safer choices.
Explore other pain relief options like lifestyle changes, yoga, exercise, chiropractic care, dietary changes, etc.
Are you ready to explore a different kind of chiropractic care? Do you want to get lasting pain relief without addictive drugs and invasive surgeries? Contact us today!