Opioid Crisis in America

Mallorie Joplin, Reporter

Opioid Overdose Crisis

In the United States, approximately 50,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2019. Opioid misuse and addiction, which includes prescription main medications, heroin, and synthetic opioids like Fentanyl, is a severe national epidemic that has a negative impact on public health, as well as social and economic well-being. The entire “economic burden” of prescription opioid usage in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is $78.5 billion per year, including healthcare costs, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice participation.

How did this happen?

Pharmacy companies reassured doctors in the late 1990s that prescribed opioid pain medications would not lead to addiction, and healthcare providers began prescribing them at higher rates. As a result, there was a widespread diversion and misuse of these drugs before it was realized that they may be very addictive. Overdose rates for opioids began to rise. Overdoses from prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly  made fetanyl, a strong synthetic opioid, claimed the lives of more than 47,000 Americans in 2017. In the same year, an estimated 1.7 million persons in the United States developed substance use disorders as a result of prescription opioid pain medications, with 652,000 developing a heroin addiction.

How can Opioid Dependence Be Prevented?

Be mindful of the possibility of alcohol or other drugs to interacting with whatever you have taken. Never use someone else’s prescription medication, and never share your prescription medication with others. Stopping or modifying a dosage regimen without consulting your doctor is never a good idea.