Opioid overdose crisis has been on the rise since the 1990’s when pharmaceutical companies stressed that opiates would not be addictive. As we all know, misuse has occurred way before the 1990’s, but now it has been declared a ‘national disaster’ as it claims some 120 deaths a day. Emily Arnold deals with those suffering from Opioid abuse on a daily basis.
So what are opioids? Opioids are defined as narcotic prescription medications that depress the central nervous system as well as bind the specific receptors of the brain that alleviate pain.
Seven depressing facts about Opioids in America:
1. In 2016, health care providers across the US wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication—a rate of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people.
2. As many as 1 in 5 people receive prescription opioids long-term for noncancer pain in primary care settings.
3. More than 11 million people abused prescription opioids in 2016.
4. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
5. More than 40% of all US opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opioid.
6. Drug overdoses claimed the lives of nearly 64,000 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66%) involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
7. The CDC estimates the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the US is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
And in Tennessee:
In 2016, there were 1,186 opioid-related overdose deaths in Tennessee—a rate of 18.1 deaths per 100,000 persons—higher than the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000 persons. Deaths from heroin overdose have increased since 2010 from 17 to 260 deaths. Deaths from synthetic and prescription opioids have also increased, from 72 to 395 deaths and from 516 to 739 deaths, respectively.
What is happening to avoid the misuse of opiates?
The state of Tennessee is avoiding misuse by limiting the supply and dosage on opioid prescriptions on new patients. Initial prescriptions will be limited to a 5-day supply with daily dosage limits. There are some exceptions to patients undergoing treatment for cancer or are in hospice care. The state has funded treatment and recovery facilities for assistance. The state provides incentives for offenders in correctional facilities to complete intensive substance use treatment programs while incarcerated. An increasing number of offenders suffer from substance use disorders. Many trainings are being done to healthcare workers, law enforcement, social workers and counselors so we can all recognize a person if they are going through an overdose from opiates. Narcan is the most common (naloxone HCl) nasal spray and is the first and only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. NARCAN nasal spray counteracts the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Since most accidental overdoses occur in a home setting, it was developed for first responders, as well as family, friends, and caregivers.
Inform your loved ones that they are not alone and can seek help for their addiction. There are many suboxone clinics that assist people with coming off opiates. Suboxone is a prescription medication intended for the treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a treatment plan in conjunction with counseling and psychosocial support. Attending support groups is important as well while maintaining sobriety. There are also treatment facilities that require a seven day detox with no medication given. Remember, “You are not alone, there is hope!” Don’t be afraid of what others think. It is your life, not theirs. Counseling is important with treatment and if you have no support, remember that someone is there for you.
If you or a loved one are suffering from substance abuse, or have a co-occurring disorder, be proactive and seek help to assist you in alleviating and managing symptoms before they worsen.
About the Author: Emily Arnold has her Master’s degree in Psychology and is a National Board Certified Counselor. She has worked in the addiction field for over six years and the mental health field for over 10 years. She currently is employed at The Conway Clinic as a counselor. To make an appointment for an intake with the suboxone clinic or more information on how she can help you with opiate addiction, please call 731-695-2532 or 731-693-2013.