Last modified: January 4, 2019
Reviewed By: Dr. Richard Honaker
It is increasingly harder to ignore the opioid epidemic in the United States. The affects of opioid addiction stretch far beyond those struggling with the addiction. It affects families, local communities, state and federal governments. But how did this happen? What can we do?
Did you know that nearly 30 percent of people prescribed opioids will abuse them in some way? This epidemic is disheartening with an estimated 115 people die of an opioid overdose every day in America.
We get a lot of opioid and addiction questions via our free online doctor chat. To help those struggling with addiction, or people who want to learn more, we sat down with Dr. Richard Honaker, Chief Medical Advisor at Your Doctors Online.
How serious is the current opioid epidemic as it relates to the future of health and healthcare?
It is very serious. Overdose deaths continue to increase. In 2016, 66 percent of the 64,000 drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. This is five times higher than in 1999. On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. This is a higher number of deaths than deaths from guns or car accidents.
Why are opioids more prevalent today? Potential causes?
The prevalence of chronic pain has exploded and thus more opioid prescriptions are being given. Aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing is also a factor. As is the introduction of new pain management standards by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in 2000, which caused an increase awareness of the right to pain relief.
How can a parent or loved one spot a family member abusing opioids?
Clues to opioid overuse or abuse are school or work neglect, mood swings, drowsiness, being unkempt, more secretive behavior, reduced social interaction, poor memory, anxiety, constipation, slowed breathing, slow movements and reaction time, apathy, and depression. Also look for short pieces of paper, dollar bills, short straws, small mirrors, needles, and rubber tubes around.
What treatment steps should be taken for someone on opioids?
If someone on opioids is unresponsive don’t let them sleep it off. Call 911 immediately. Carry or have Narcan or Evzio available to temporarily reverse the opioid effects. Get the patient to seek counseling and help in an outpatient or inpatient program. Try StopOverdose.org and National Institute on Drug Abuse/Opioids for information and support.
Can talking to a doctor help?
Talking to a doctor can help, as well as starting to open up and talking to friends, family, church contacts, etc.
If you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, or any addiction, talk to a doctor to get information. You can talk to a doctor today too. Simply sign up quickly for our free online doctor chat and start talking to a physician in minutes.
Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker: http://www.independentmedicalexaminer.com/IME-Directory/Virginia/Dr-Richard-A-Honaker-MD.asp
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.