The Surprising Truth Behind Opioid Addiction in America

You may not know it from listening to mainstream media, but America has an opioid addiction.

And it’s worse than you ever thought possible.

Startling—and not talked about—data from the CDC and other sources show that opioid addiction has reached epidemic levels in the United States. With as many as two million people addicted and 75,000 deaths each year, it’s time to take a closer look at this growing crisis.

Only by becoming aware of the truth may we force both the mainstream media, politicians and those in power to finally address the pressing epidemic.

But what is the truth behind the opioid addiction? Consider the following information.

What is Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction refers to the abuse of the prescription opioid medication. Opioid abuse may also include dangerous drugs such as heroin and fentanyl—a relatively recent form of synthetic opioid that has proven to be especially fatal.

Unlike other drug users, many opioid abusers never intend to actually abuse drugs. Instead, they become addicted to the pain-relieving properties of opioid medicine. Subsequently, these individuals grow dependent on opioids—even after their pain is gone. Those suffering from chronic pain are at particular risk of developing opioid abuse habits, as they tend to use opioid medication for a longer period of time.

Ultimately, an overreliance on opioid medication leads to dangerous opioid abuse. To make matters worse, studies have shown that this epidemic has been fueled by the very individuals who are meant to protect us most.

What Has Led to the Current Opioid Addiction Epidemic?

You may be surprised to learn that much of the blame for the current epidemic falls on doctors and other medical professionals.

Though it may sound shocking, the data is clear on the issue. Studies have revealed a dramatic increase in the number of opioids prescribed in the last two decades.

Even the Department of Health and Human Services admits as much. On their official site, they note:

“In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.”

In fact, this trend continued, and between 2001 and 2010, the overall number of emergency room visits that ended with an opioid prescription increased by over 10%.

This startling statistic has had two major implications on the current levels of opioid addiction.

First, the increase in opioid prescriptions has introduced more individuals than ever before to powerful opioid medication.

And second, the apparent willingness of medical professionals to provide opioid medication as a “quick fix” enabled abusers to obtain opioids more easily than ever before.

Could it be that medical professionals across the nation were oblivious to the current opioid epidemic? Not according to data from the CDC.

The Center for Disease Control reports that as many as 70,000 people have died from opioid abuse in the last twenty years.

Other studies put the numbers even higher than that.

The CDC likewise reported that the number of opioid deaths related to fentanyl was six times higher in 2017 than in 1999. This reflects a staggering growth in opioid abuse in a period of

less
than twenty years.

And the numbers just keep growing. But what have the mainstream media and politicians been doing about it?

A 2015 study titled “The Epidemic of Prescription Opioid Abuse, the Subsequent Rising Prevalence of Heroin Use, and the Federal Response,” in the Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy noted that an increase in prescription opioid abuse coincided with a resurgence of heroin use.

This study’s finding reinforces the increased fatality of the growing opioid epidemic while examining federal responses to the issue. What you should take away, however, is that despite government response, the epidemic has continued to grow.

Likewise, as doctors continued to prescribe an increasing number of opioid medications each year, a growing number of patients built the tolerance to standard medications. Instead of the national awakening to the epidemic, however, doctors further exacerbated the situation by resorting to fentanyl prescriptions.

Because fentanyl has been proven to be an especially-insidious drug for opioid abusers, let’s take a moment to look at it more in-depth.

What is Fentanyl?

A synthetic opioid, fentanyl proves to be an especially-powerful pain killer. For this reason, doctors typically restrict its use to those who have built up such a tolerance to normal opioids that they have become ineffective.

Though fentanyl does have proper medical use, it must be noted that the dangerous effects of this synthetic drug have been well-documented for decades. It’s been known since at least the 1990s, for example, that transdermal fentanyl patches can prove fatal.

But what is it that makes fentanyl so deadly?

Consider this: fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. This dangerous potency has cautioned National Institute on Drug Abuse to warn against the overuse of fentanyl.

This causes it to not only be extremely addictive—as makes users feel high—but also uniquely dangerous. It’s been shown that those who take fentanyl without a high tolerance for opioids already are at particular risk of death.

For this reason, public health officials have placed an emphasis on fentanyl abuse in recent years.

How Bad Is America’s Opioid Addiction?

So just how bad is America’s opioid addiction? Does it really classify as an epidemic?

For starters, keep in mind that the Department of Health and Human Services declared the U.S. opioid epidemic a public health emergency in 2017. In doing so, they sought to admit to and right the flagrant wrongs of the medical community since the 1990s.

In doing so, the HHS released a press release noting the following:

“Today’s declaration [October 26, 2017], coupled with the President’s direction that executive agencies use all appropriate emergency authorities and other relevant authorities, is another powerful action the Trump Administration is taking in response to America’s deadly opioid crisis.”

They continued to note that the declaration brought forth a “new level of urgency” to the situation. Their press release also noted that as many as 140 Americans die every day from drug overdoses, with 91 of those deaths coming from opioid overdose. This means that 65% of all drug overdoses in the United States result from opioid abuse.

Let’s take a look at other numbers related to the U.S. opioid epidemic in 2017, as provided by the HHS:

• 11.4 million people misused opioids, with 2.4 million of them having opioid abuse issues

• 886,000 people used heroin, with 15,482 of them experiencing fatal overdoses

• 47,600 people died from an opioid overdose

• 81,000 people used heroin for the first time

• 2,000,000 people used opioids for the first time

• 28,466 people died from synthetic opioid abuse (excluding methadone)

But as the National Institute on Drug Abuse notes, the current opioid epidemic has other serious consequences as well.

Namely, the epidemic causes a loss of $78.5 billion a year. They report that this economic burden results from “costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse provided further statistics that elaborate on the ones provided by HHS:

• 21-29% of first-time chronic pain sufferers using opioids will misuse them.

• 8-12% of first-time users will start to abuse opioids.

• Additionally, 4-6% of these individuals will progress to heroin use.

• Opioid overdoses are becoming frighteningly more common, with a 30% increase from July 2016 to September 2017 in 45 states.

• During that same period, opioid overdoses increased by 70% in the Midwest and 54% in big cities in 16 different states.

What Is Being Done to Solve the Current U.S. Opioid Epidemic?

Until 2017, little was done to address the growing U.S. opioid epidemic—though there were clear signs that something was wrong.

Importantly, though health officials now admit that pharmaceutical companies misled doctors, nothing has been done to hold these companies accountable for their actions—actions that have led to the deaths of millions of individuals.

In many ways, the damage these companies caused has already been done—at least for hundreds of thousands of current opioid abusers.

Fortunately, though no real accountability for the issue has been taken, recent efforts by the President’s Administration have worked to combat the opioid epidemic.

Most notably, President Trump outlined a 5-Point Strategy to Fight the Opioid Crisis. As noted by the Department of Health and Human Services, this strategy looks to focus on the following areas:

• Improving access to treatment and recovery services

• Promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs

• Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance

• Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addition; and

• Advancing better practices for pain management (source: Thomas E. Price, M.D., as reported by the HHS)

Price goes on to note that “90% of Americans struggling with addiction are not currently getting treatment.”

To combat this, the HHS allotted $485 million in grants for states to partake in “evidence-based prevention and treatment activities.”

Let’s Recap

Let’s take a moment to recap the key points here regarding the U.S. opioid epidemic:

• The government freely admits that pharmaceutical companies misled health professionals in the 1990s, leading to a nearly 30-year period in which opioids were prescribed too freely.

• This misuse of opioid prescription power led to a steep increase in the number of opioid abusers in the country.

• Opioid abuse causes thousands of deaths every year, and nearly 100 every day.

• For a period of nearly thirty years, the government did nothing to help combat the opioid crisis, despite ample evidence from the medical community.

• Despite this evidence, medical professionals continued to prescribe opioid medicines at an alarming rate.

• The mainstream media remains eerily silent regarding the opioid epidemic.

• Since 2017, the Trump Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services have worked to develop a 5-Point Strategy to help combat the growing opioid epidemic.

If any of this sounds sketchy to you, you’re not alone. After gross negligence on the part of both the medical community, the mainstream media, and several generations of politicians, millions of Americans are left reeling with the crippling effects of the current opioid epidemic.

To make matters worse, data from recent government actions remain scarce, as it’s still too early to tell the effect this 5-Point Strategy will have in combatting the epidemic. For this reason, it may be that the epidemic is still growing, despite efforts being made by the federal government.

Additionally, because responses to the opioid epidemic can vary from state to state, it may be that the epidemic remains concentrated in certain areas of the country over others.

In light of all this, the mainstream media remains too quiet, failing to inform the populace of the dangerous effects the opioid epidemic is having on communities across the nation.

The Bottom Line

Despite the failings of individuals, businesses, and groups in power, there is hope for those dealing with opioid addiction.

With federal, state, and private programs now working to help those in need, there’s now more help than ever before for those who are struggling from opioid addiction.

If you would like to protect your loved ones from this epidemic, keep the above points in mind. By staying informed about this growing crisis, you can better protect yourself and the ones you care about.

For this reason, be sure to discuss with your loved ones any concerns you may have, and take precautions when prescribed any opioids. Discuss with your doctor if these opioids are right for you and any risks that may be associated with their use.

By taking extra precautions, you can help make sure that you and your loved ones don’t fall victim to this needless epidemic. Don’t let the gross negligence of former leaders and the current mainstream media tear your family apart like it has done so many others.

Instead, use this information to protect your own family and to inform others of what they need to know to stay protected.

In doing so, you can help end the gross cycle of opioid abuse. 

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