Nora Volkow, MD and member of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control stated for the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2014 that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States having a substance use disorder related to opioids. New York Times noted that in 2015, more than 33,000 people were killed due to the opioid epidemic. This is a huge concern and has been called the worst drug crisis in American history.
The epidemic didn’t just happen overnight – CNN claims that the United States specifically has had a drug problem since the creation of pain management back in the early 1900’s. Little was known about drugs such as heroin, morphine, cocaine and other painkillers, but as doctors began realizing their addictive nature and harmful effects, they eventually became illegal. The 1970’s was a time when drug use really escalated – President Gerald Ford delved into the issue further. By the late 1970’s when Percocet and Vicodin arrived in the market, doctors were already aware to avoid prescribing opioids to their patients.
Jane Porter and Dr. Hershel Jick stated in their examination study of 11,882 patients that, “the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.” When this happened, patients began being treated with opioids again. The early 1990’s is when OxyContin emerged, and the number of painkiller medications grew from 2 to 3 million each year, as claimed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. CNN also notes that from 1995 to 1996, prescriptions jumped by 8 million.
There is a debate on who is to blame with the crisis. Many people believe the accessibility to prescription drugs is at fault – but there is another side to the story. LA Times presents another view, primarily that many people believe in the disconnection between one another and that as America is becoming more distressed and disconnected, they are leaning towards prescription painkillers to resolve their psychological pain. Addiction rates are not equal across the entire country, and LA Times notes that loneliness and insecurity in towns such as Rust Belt, the South Bronx and New England are causing addiction to skyrocket.
No matter the cause of the crisis, there is no debating that one is at hand. Opioids are extremely addictive and many of Americans are abusing the drug, leading to many deaths.
If you are addicted to opioids, speak with a health care professional today to begin your journey to recovery. New Vista Behavioral Health has several excellent facilities that will make you feel at home. We believe in promoting the mind, body, and spirit – and will support you from the very beginning. Our experienced addiction and mental health professionals care about your success. Call us today to receive a consultation at 866-855-4202.