The extent of opioid addiction epidemic in the United States is evident as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), report which observes that “More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.” Meanwhile, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated that an estimated 52 million Americans have abused a prescription drug at some point in their life.
The data showed abuse can begin from as early as 15 years of age. One of the factors behind the rise could be the easy availability of the drugs which further encourages sharing and distribution among peers and friends. Many organizations and authorities prepared programs to curb this, however, none of them were ever acted upon, said a recent study.
Programs to curb painkiller abuse are underutilized
According to a study titled, “Programs to Spot Painkiller Abuse Work, but are Underused,” while there are resources available to help tackle the opioid epidemic , they are not being put into action. The state of Maine has been using a prescription drug monitoring program since 2004. However, when researchers interviewed pharmacists in 2014, only 56 percent of the 275 pharmacists surveyed utilized the program. Researcher Stephanie Nichols, with the Husson University School of Pharmacy, in Maine, said, “Often, the pharmacist is the ‘last line of defense,’ for patient safety.”
The study further mentioned that the opioid painkillers prescribed to 22 percent of Maine residents in 2014 were enough to provide every person in the state with a 16-day supply. The findings further indicated the trend of doctors prescribing opioids frequently. The frequency of prescriptions is a significant contribution to the widespread epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the country.
The study reported, “Prescriptions for oxycodone and hydrocodone were lower in 2014, but there was a sharp rise in buprenorphine prescriptions. Buprenorphine is an opioid, but it’s typically used to treat opioid addiction.”
Impact of prescription drug abuse
There are several consequences of prescription drug abuse on the body and the brain. While many believe that the use of opioids is safe because they are prescribed by doctors, it is important to note that prescription drugs can cause more harm than illegal drugs. Studies have also found that prescription drugs can become the gateway for the use and abuse of dangerous illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine. There are many prescription drugs that can cause the same euphoric effect generated by illegal drugs. However, many people tend to combine prescription drugs with alcohol or illegal drugs to intensify the effect. This combination can have deadly results.
According to the NIDA, prescription drugs work “by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract and other organs in the body. When these drugs attach to their receptors, they reduce the perception of pain and can produce a sense of well-being; however, they can also produce drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea and constipation.”
Take action to overcome prescription drug abuse
In order to curtail the rise of the prescription drug abuse epidemic, it is important for every person to participate and take action. Parents should ensure the safety of their children by storing prescription medications out of their reach, of teens and anyone else, who should not have access to them. Schools, colleges and universities should watch out for the exchange and sharing of opioids within the premises.
If you or a loved one is battling prescription drug abuse and seeking medical help, the Florida Detox Helpline can assist you in getting the complete information on detox facilities in Florida. You may call our 24/7 helpline number 855-920-9869 or chat online with one of our representatives who will refer you to the best detox center in Florida.