Opioid-Induced Crisis The USA


The information presented in this article has been gathered with USA in focus, but is relevant to anyone, regardless of their location. 

If you have been checking the news, besides the pressing numbers of the Co-Vid 19, you may have also encountered numerous headlines regarding the opioid epidemic. 

The situation in most states has progressively worsened, with a significant spike in opioid-related overdose fatalities. 

How do opioids work?

Opioids often numb out the pain receptors in the brain, stomach, and spine. This makes it impossible for the spinal cord and brain to communicate effectively. 

Though these narcotics are often prescribed to alleviate moderate to severe pain, they pose serious dangers to the patients. The prolonged use of opioids to aid chronic pain carries the highest risk of developing a substance disorder. 

Prescribed vs Illicit Use of Opioids

Whether consumed under medical supervision or not, opioids should be used with extreme caution. 

Legal circumstances 

Opioids are often prescribed by doctors to treat cases of severe or chronic pain. Some of the most common circumstances include:

  • Chronic Back Pain & Prolonged Migraines

When no other medication can alleviate chronic pain, patients often receive opioid-based therapy. 

  • Sports Traumas

Athletes and active sportsmen sometimes sustain severe injuries, which necessitate a more intense narcotic treatment, to aid them in their speedier recovery. 

  • Car Accidents

Serious vehicle collisions may result in many broken bones and organ failures. Managing the post-op symptoms could be aided by opioid therapy.

  • Cancer Patients

Chemotherapy is extremely painful, and patients often require pain relievers, like certain types of opioids. 

Illicit drug abuse

When consumed without medical supervision, opioids pose a high risk of overdose. The reason lies in the nature of the drug. 

When their pain receptors are numb, addicts are unable to recognize the moment when they have had enough of the substance. They keep on satiating their cravings until their body collapses. At this point, without immediate medical assistance, fatalities are bound to happen. 

Example: The Opioid Numbers in Washington, DC 

If you have ever seen the popular TV series House MD, you have probably heard two common opioid brand names: Vicodin and Oxycontin. 

Some of the commonly prescribed narcotics include Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Codeine, Morphine, and Oxymorphone.

The number one most fatal and abused illegal opioid in DC is heroin. Street users use the code names of Dope, Horse, Smack, Junk, Hero, and Snow. Fentanyl ranks second in the classification. The combination of the two is deadly & has been reported as the number one cause for drug overdose deaths.  

On a national level, two out of three overdose fatalities are induced by opioid abuse, which translates into over 130 deaths every single day. 

Dc’s drug overdose rates have sky-rocketed in the past couple of decades. The state now ranks among the top three most heavily impacted by opioid-involving OD deaths. The stats show that the state’s heroin-induced deaths have tripled, while prescription-opioid ones have doubled. 

Drug treatment options

As the opioid epidemic has been on the rise, the local government has recognized the need for more funding in rehab facilities. The number of treatment centers in the USA has drastically increased, offering patients both affordable and luxurious alternatives. 

  • Medical Detox

Patients diagnosed with a moderate to severe opioid addiction require medical detox as the first step in their therapy. Their body must flush all hazardous substances to prepare for the rest of the series of treatments. 

Hospitalization or rehab admission is recommendable, as withdrawal symptoms may be quite severe. For their own safety, patients should demand constant medical supervision, in case their vital signs suddenly worsen.  

  • Inpatient Programs

After undergoing detox, often patients get referrals for inpatient programs. It is vital for them to remain in an environment, which is free from triggers and negative influences. 

When suffering from a co-occurring disorder, it is most suitable that opioid addicts remain in a controlled facility to receive complex treatment. They may need specific medications, counseling, and cognitive therapy. 

The response of the local government

The state of DC has not only won additional federal treatment funding but also established stricter punishment for the illegal distribution of opioids. Local leaders have developed the “LIVE.LONG. DC” program to decrease the overdose death rate by increasing the availability and use of the reversal-drug Naloxone. 

With the cooperation of the public and various NGOs, the state has the ambition to reduce opioid-induced crimes & deaths by 50 % within the year. 

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