Publication date: May 17, 2019
Opioid abuse is prevalent in demographics across the board: rich or poor, people of color or white, secular or religious – everybody is affected by the losing battle we’re waging against opioids. Throughout her service, Alfonzo-Zea was prescribed opioids to relieve pain for injuries she sustained as a result of the tough nature of a soldier’s job. By the time she was released from the Army, Alfonzo-Zea had developed a dependency on prescription pain drugs. As a result of her addiction to prescription painkillers, Alfonso-Zea slipped deeper and deeper into the reclusive recesses of her home, going through the motions of life as if she was but a passenger – all the while feeling something was terribly wrong. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes opioids as -a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers available legally by prescription such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine and many others. ” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, in 2017, 47,600 Americans died from opioid overdose, which made up 67. 8% of all drug overdose deaths that year. Top doctor of the CDC nearly lost his son to fentanyl and calls opioid addiction “the public health crisis of our time” https://t. co/V2QC6mdV0p pic. twitter. com/3qv8CelUIr – New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) July 18, 2018 Opioids interact with receptors located on nerve cells throughout the body and in the brain. Every day, more and more people come into contact with opioids under advisement from their doctor for a legitimate condition of pain. -Despite our best efforts to understand the biology of opioids and the effectiveness of opioids – or the ineffectiveness in terms of chronic pain anyway – there’s still a lot of work to be done,” she said. The average American has, at some point, or will shortly in the future have an opioid prescribed to them Click To Tweet More and more, doctors are seeing the class of drugs most commonly prescribed to treat pain in the U. S. tearing apart families and destroying people’s lives. Like Milanes, he reevaluated his role in the current state of opioid use in the U. S.and believes a more comprehensive approach to the problem is necessary. For instance, in medical school I learned that as long as a patient was taking an opioid because they were experiencing pain, then there was an almost nonexistent chance that they would become addicted to this. Cowan is careful not to completely vilify opioids, however, as they have a legitimate medical application in pain management. The Epidemic Has Great Costs Curtis Florence, Ph. D., and colleagues of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control examined data including direct healthcare costs, loss of productivity, and criminal justice system costs to develop an understanding of the total economic burden of opioid addiction and abuse in the U. S. Their study was published in the October 2016 issue of the journal Medical Care and estimates the total burden of the opioid epidemic to be $78. 5 billion, with health-care costs making up the bulk of the costs. More than 16,000 deaths from prescription opioid abuse were logged that year. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps) When it comes to loss of productivity, struggles with opioid abuse and addiction cost Americans nearly $20 billion, while fatal overdoses resulted in a $21. 4 billion burden in the year the data were analyzed. While Florence’s study can’t take into account every factor that may contribute to the societal costs of opioid abuse and addiction, his findings paint a clear picture of a complex and costly problem with few viable solutions in sight.
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