Today’s conversation about the American opioid addiction epidemic centers mostly on heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. In many states, illicit opioid use is a public health crisis, and these types of drugs are the most significant contributor to the more than 100 overdose deaths each day.
While it is vital that efforts continue to combat the influx of fentanyl and provide addiction treatment resources to those in the grips of a heroin use disorder, the nation (especially our lawmakers) must never lose sight of the role that opioid pain meds play in this catastrophe. We must remember that 80 percent of current heroin users started with a prescription painkiller.
Decades of overprescribing, flooding American households and family medicine cabinets, has a had visible, lasting impact on our society. The fact that most doctors do not have a grasp on the nature of addiction and are unequipped to identify at-risk patients is also worth mentioning. What’s more, far too many patients still don’t fully realize that treating pain with opioids is a slippery slope to addiction and dependence.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
Now, with roughly 20 years of rising addiction and overdose death rates, physicians continue to prescribe narcotic painkillers at alarming rates. Few doctors consult Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), the state databases that allow MD’s and pharmacists to identify “doctor shoppers.” Naturally, it is easy to cast blame on the medical professionals and big pharma for aggressively promoting drugs with a high potential for abuse; however, it is not so simple to attribute the epidemic to the industry solely. Many Americans unwittingly contribute to the problems we face today in how they handle prescription narcotics.
The number one source of abused prescription opioids is friends and family, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Out of adults who reported misusing opioids, 60 percent did not have a prescription, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of those individuals, nearly half — 41 percent — acquired the medications from friends or relatives, at no cost. Research published in JAMA in 2016 shows that about one in five people who were prescribed opioids reported having shared these with a friend; and, almost 50 percent didn’t know how to dispose of their leftover medication safely. Nearly 14 percent were likely to share their prescription painkillers with a relative in the future, and almost 8 percent would share with a friend.
Prescription opioids are helpful for treating acute pain, but under no circumstances should leftover medications remain in the household after the discomfort subsides. Whether pill diversion is intended or not, the risk of drugs like oxycodone ending up in the wrong hands is exceptionally high. Moreover, overdoses take more lives than firearms, and yet few people lock up their medication for safe storage. Any American who has unused or unwanted medicines can have a hand in averting misuse by safely disposing of their drugs at a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day collection site on October 27, 2018 at 10:00 AM; please click here to find a location near you. We invite you to watch a short video below
If you are having trouble watching, please click here.
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
Please contact Pacific Shores if you are in the grips of an opioid use disorder involving painkillers or heroin. We offer medical detox services to help clients undergo withdrawal symptoms, as comfortable as possible. Our clinical team provides compassionate support while providing medical and holistic solutions to withdrawal.
It’s the perfect time to embrace a new hope – and a new life.