We live in world where everyone knows someone who is struggling with drug addiction. Even sadder to say, we all probably know someone who has even lost their life due to an addiction. Whether it’s a friend or family member – we are in the midst of an epidemic here in the United States with no sign of slowing down.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released another report focusing on the opioid epidemic, this time looking at the number of people treated in emergency departments for suspected overdose. The report found a 30 percent increase from July 2016 to September 2017.
Drug abuse knows no boundaries
What the report shows is what we have all suspected: While there is a problem here in Maryland, there is a problem across the country and it’s affecting men and women of all ages. More and more people are becoming addicted to opioids. More and more people are overdosing – and sadly – more people are also dying.
In looking at what is leading to the increase in opioid use, one of the big causes is prescriptions. What starts as a prescription for pain relief, turns into an all out addiction.
But it doesn’t end there, while doctors and medical professionals may prescribe an opioid like morphine, oxycodone or Vicodin, heroin also falls into the same class of drugs. Between 2010 and 2016, the CDC reports the number of overdose deaths attributed to heroin saw a significant increase of more than five times.
Another drug to make the news is fentanyl. Fentanyl is normally prescribed to people who are experiencing severe pain, as it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. However, the problem is that many people are getting their hands on fentanyl made in clandestine labs that is then sold on the street, not prescribed by doctors.
When it comes to prescriptions, there are many people who once got their prescriptions legally – but who now turn to buying drugs off the street. There are others who make the leap from legal prescriptions to illegal narcotics. In these scenarios, the underlying addiction is fueling the behavior.
Drug abuse can lead to criminal behaviors
Here is the thing about drug use: Often, those addicted to drugs end up in situations and living a lifestyle that they never would have imagined themselves in. Some people turn to crime – shoplifting, robbery, burglary and prostitution – in an effort to feed their addiction. Others end up hanging out with the wrong crowd, feeling like outcasts from the rest of society.
The hope is that more attention continues to be paid to this rising epidemic in the country and that more attention leads to not only better enforcement, but to better treatment options for those abusing opioids. Better treatment will then lead to people getting the help they truly need to turn their lives around.