Opioids are medications prescribed to treat severe chronic pain. These medicines might include synthetic opioids such as fentanyl (for cancer patients) and painkillers like hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone amongst others. Opioids are considered to be dangerous because of their highly addictive nature. They are often associated with overdoses and overdose-related deaths.
The primary cause of opioid addiction has always been identified as prescribed pills by doctors. According to several reports, heroin use rose in the U.S. in the late 2000s after the government started its crackdown on drug manufactures and opioid manufacturers modified the opioid formulation to prevent abuse. Due to lower price and easier availability, people addicted to opioids switched to heroin, increasing its use at an alarming rate.
To verify and understand the role of prescriptions in opioid addition, a study, led by Ashton Verdery, assistant professor of sociology, demography and social data analytics, and an affiliate of the Institute for CyberScience, Penn State University, was conducted.
In-depth interviews conducted to understand drug habits
The researchers selected 125 participants to provide information regarding their choice of substance use, demographics, risk factors, and social networks, amongst others. Out of them, 30 participants, who were also nonmedical users of opioids, agreed to participate in extensive, one-hour interviews about their drug use habits. All the participants were chosen from southwestern Pennsylvania due to the high intensity of opioid abuse in the region.
According to the researchers, the findings would help in understanding pathways leading to opioid addiction which would help in improving treatment programs and interventions.
Most people introduced to opioids by family members and friends
The findings challenged the general belief that people became addicted to opioids after they were prescribed these by their doctors. In fact, according to the findings, around 56 percent of the participants admitted that they first used the painkillers recreationally due to their social networks and the people around them. Further, the most common sources of painkillers were either siblings or other family members, or friends. This clearly showed that the initial sources of painkillers for majority of the people were friends, families, and close associates.
However, when it became difficult for the participants to obtain the drugs from the initial sources, they opted for “doctor shopping” and looked for doctors who would prescribe them opioids. Verdery feels that understanding where people got their initial supply of drugs from would help formulate better intervention and treatment plans.
Need to improve awareness
Verdery said that much more was needed than a crackdown on doctors who prescribed opioids. The need of the hour was to educate the people about the dangerous and harmful effects of such pills and warn them about either obtaining it or distributing it amongst friends and family.
Since support from family and friends is critical for people undergoing opioid addiction treatment program, it is absolutely important to take into consideration the role of social networks in facilitating opioid addiction.
Though similar results are expected from the regions affected most by the opioid epidemic, it was suggested that further research involving the study of addiction facilitation in other communities as well as in other substance use might play an important role in understanding opioid addiction.
Treatment for opioid addiction
Opioid addiction must be treated with specialized and professional support at the right time. The first step toward recovery from opioid dependence is detoxification which helps expel harmful toxins from the body and makes it ready for further treatment via medicines and therapies.
If you or a loved one is afflicted with an addiction to any kind of substance and is looking for rapid detox facilities and wellness centers, then contact the Florida Detox Helpline. We can connect you with rapid detox wellness centers that offer personalized detox packages in a safe and secure environment for an effective detox and complete healing. Call our 24/7 detox helpline 855-920-9869 or chat online with our specialists for more information.