August 2019

The Opioid Epidemic
Heroin on the Rise

Opioid's Grip

The Opioid Epidemic

Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relieversheroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, is a serious national crisis.

Devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic include:
  • Increases in opioid misuse and related overdoses
  • Increases of newborns experiencing withdrawals due to opioid misuse during pregnancy
  • Increases in injection drug use has contributed to the spread of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis C 
How did this happen?
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers. Health care providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. The increased opioid prescriptions led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that they could be highly addictive.
Opioids create artificial endorphins. This can cause a temporary "high". Continued opioid use can make the brain stop producing its own endorphins. This leads people to take increasingly higher doses to feel good.
Anyone can become dependent on opioids. There may be early signs that you or your loved one’s opioid use is becoming a problem. Opioid addiction is a chronic brain disease. Besides harming a person’s health, it can change how someone thinks and feels. This may last a long time, lead to other harmful actions and cause difficult relationships with family and friends. Without treatment and recovery, addiction may keep getting worse.
If you or someone you know has a problem with opioid addiction, help is available. You can start by talking to your doctor. Make an appointment and ask for help. Educate yourself about the problem and treatment options. In the event of a crisis, always call 911. 

Heroin on the Rise

Across the country, heroin use has increased among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Approximately 80 percent of new heroin users are coming to heroin after abusing prescription opioids. Heroin is highly addictive. It can take as little as three days to become addicted. The average heroin addict spends $80 – 200 per day to maintain his or her addiction. Heroin has varying purities which makes it much easier to overdose. Learn more about heroin.

The Susceptibility of Opioid Addiction
Nobody is quite sure why one person becomes addicted to opioids and not another. Typically, opioids produce pain relief, which is good after surgery. However, opioids can stimulate some people beyond pain relief, creating a pleasurable effect that they begin to crave. Some people actually don’t like the effect of an opioid. They may go on to avoid them. If you take an opioid and your pain is gone, and you find yourself saying, “I feel really good,” it may be a warning sign that you are vulnerable to misusing these medications. Learn more.
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