Opioid Abuse and Addiction in Orlando
Opioids are a class of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. Opioids include prescription pain medications and illicit painkillers like heroin. Opioids act on the central nervous system in similar ways. Unfortunately, opioid abuse and addiction have led to significant increases in overdoses and deaths. The use of opioids has become so problematic in the United States that it’s referred to as a crisis and an epidemic.
What Is an Opioid?
Opioids bind to receptors throughout the central nervous system. Taking large doses of opioids can produce euphoria. The euphoric effects of opioids typically include pain relief, relaxation and stimulation.
There are naturally-derived opioids that come from the poppy plant. There are also synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids. The opioid definition is broad since it refers to all of these, and the term opioid can be used interchangeably with narcotic.
When someone uses opioids at low doses or as prescribed, the effects are typically minimal. When someone takes high doses of opioids, the effects can be dangerous. It is important to take opioids as directed to avoid these dangers. Taking high doses of any opioid can cause breathing to slow down to a dangerous level.
Some of the most common prescription opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), oxymorphone (Opana), morphine, and codeine. Prescription opioid abuse occurs when someone uses these drugs in a way other than how they’re prescribed.
Examples of opioid abuse include:
- Using a higher dose than prescribed
- Using someone else’s medicine
- Using it only to get high
Fentanyl is an opioid that’s particularly dangerous and deadly. It’s a synthetic opioid that acts similarly to morphine, but fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger. Fentanyl is used medically to manage severe pain or post-surgical pain. In some cases, doctors may prescribe opioids to patients with chronic pain who are intolerant to other medications.
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Is an Opioid Addictive?
Opioids are extremely addictive. In addition to relieving pain, opioids can create euphoria or pleasant feelings. The euphoric effects of opioids can create a reward response and a reinforcement cycle in the brain. The person using the opioids may start to use them compulsively.
Opioid addiction often requires professional treatment. Along with addiction, opioids can cause physical dependence. When someone is dependent on opioids, trying to stop using them suddenly may lead to withdrawal symptoms.
Most opioids are Schedule II substances. Heroin is a Schedule I substance in the United States. A Schedule I substance is one that the Drug Enforcement Administration sees as not having any approved medical uses and a high risk of addiction and abuse.
A schedule II opioid has approved medical uses. However, it also carries a significant risk of addiction and dependence. Even if someone takes a prescription opioid as prescribed, the individual can still develop an addiction.
Opioid Addiction Statistics
America is experiencing an opioid crisis. This opioid epidemic started in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies advertised these medications as being safe and nonaddictive pain relievers. The number of prescriptions written for these drugs went up significantly during this time. As a result, many people developed opioid addictions.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in 2017. There have been numerous plans outlined to help combat the epidemic, but it continues to be one of the leading killers in the United States.
Some opioid addiction statistics and opioid epidemic statistics include:
- Nearly 115 people die every day in the United States because of an opioid overdose.
- The misuse of prescription opioids, as well as heroin, costs the United States $78.5 billion a year. This price includes costs related to healthcare, lost productivity, criminal justice involvement and addiction treatment.
- In 2017, it was estimated that nearly 16,000 people died from heroin overdoses.
- There were more than 33,000 Americans who died of an opioid overdose in 2015.
- In 2015 it was estimated 2 million people had a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids.
- Anywhere from 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed opioids for chronic pain abuse them.
- Between 8 and 12 percent of people who use prescription opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
- Between 4 and 6 percent of people who abuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
- In 45 states, opioid overdoses increased by 30 percent from July 2016 to September 2017.
- In large cities, opioid overdoses went up to 54 percent in 16 states
Opioids are a class of drugs that continue to become increasingly problematic in the United States. If you or a loved one experiences opioid dependence or addiction, please contact Orlando Recovery Center and speak with our intake coordinators.