Understanding the Opioid Epidemic

If you have friends, family members, or loved ones who are suffering from opioid addiction, you’re likely struggling to come to terms with how to respond. In order to do that, you must first understand a bit about the opioid epidemic itself.

The Roots of the Opioid Epidemic

Though opium use is a well-documented phenomenon around the world, particularly from the 1700s and onward, the opioid epidemic as we know it in America today has its roots in near history.

The first wave began with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s, with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999. (CDC)

Throughout the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies repeatedly assured medical professionals and consumers alike that patients would not become addicted to opium-based pain relievers. As a result, they prescribed them at increasing rates. Unfortunately, it slowly became clear that these substances are, indeed, highly addictive.

With the second and third waves of the epidemic emerging through the 2000s, both natural and synthetic opioids continue to wreak havoc on people of all backgrounds.

The Fallout of Opioids

Sadly, many people become addicted to opioids after being prescribed them legally as pain medications. After that, they’re often led on a downward spiral from legitimate use to abuse to harder substances such as heroin. In fact, the link between opioid abuse and heroin is both clear and substantiated.

Drug abuse does more than simply contribute to a declining quality of life. It can end life itself.

Sadly, this is part of the fallout we’ve witnessed during the worsening crisis of the opioid epidemic. Things have gotten so bad that for the first time in one hundred years, life expectancy in the United States has actually begun to fall.

According to the World Bank Group, the country’s average life expectancy fell from 78.8 years in 2014 to 78.7 years in 2015, and then to 78.5 years in 2016 and 2017….The death rate from drug overdoses more than tripled between 1999 and 2017, and that from opioid overdoses increased almost sixfold during the same period. (Nature)

These numbers are startling, to say the least, and it’s no surprise that in 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Fortunately, all is not lost.

Some Hope

With government agencies coming together to fight the opioid crisis, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Those mired in addiction don’t need to stay there forever. Help is available, and treatments are effective.

Such treatments may include:

  • medical intervention
  • counseling
  • group and individual therapy
  • partnership and accountability
  • rehabilitation

Sadly, while tens of millions of Americans currently fight addictions, only 11% of them ever receive treatment. Often, that’s because they think they can break the cycle on their own.

While friends and family members can go a long way toward setting their loved ones back on the right track, they usually don’t have the skills to handle all aspects of addiction recovery by themselves.

We Can Help

Professionals like the ones at Serenity Oaks are here to provide intensive therapies, instill coping mechanisms, and teach the sort of relapse prevention mechanisms that will help people break the addiction cycle and thrive long-term.

If you, a friend, family member, or loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, you don’t have to handle it on your own. Drug rehabilitation centers like Serenity Oaks exist to provide exactly the sorts of services needed to help break the addiction cycle.

Contact Serenity Oaks Center for help or more information. Here, we offer personalized care to help people overcome addiction and get their lives back on track.

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