Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. Continued use and abuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Well-known brand names include Oxycontin and Percocet.
In the 1990’s pharmaceutical companies began to aggressively market opioids as a guaranteed pain reliever. From 1996 to 2002, prescriptions issued for OxyContin in the US increased tenfold over those six years, from 670,000 a year to more than six million. Painkillers proliferated through barely regulated pain treatment centers, or “pill mills”. These pills landed in the hands of not just patients ,but also teens rummaging through their parents’ medicine cabinets, other family members and friends of patients, and the black market.
Government intervention and regulations shut down the opioid pipeline, but in the process may have created a worse outcome. Many people who lost access to painkillers were still addicted and turned to cheaper, more potent opioids: heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic often manufactured illegally for non-medical uses.
Today, America is losing almost 1,000 people a week to drug overdoses. Two-thirds of those are opioid fatalities, but with a rising number of heroin and fentanyl deaths.
About 11.5 million Americans misused prescription pain medicine in 2016, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to a 2016 report by the surgeon general, just 10 percent of Americans with a drug use disorder obtain specialty treatment. The report found that the low rate was largely explained by a shortage of treatment options.
At Collaborative Minds, Dr. Larry Warner, Jr, treats those suffering with opioid addiction with Suboxone, an FDA-approved medication in conjuction with counseling and behavioral therapy. If you or someone you love are suffering from opioid addiction, help is available. Contact Collaborative Minds at 225-456-2884 to discuss your treatment options.