Statistics on opiate addiction revealed that over 70,000 people died from opiate overdose in 2019. This number is over three times higher than the number of deaths from car accidents. This statistic is appalling, and it is not getting any better. The numbers are still on a steep incline, and there are no signs that the increase will stop anytime soon.
The statistics show that 90% of all opiate overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin) or hydrocodone (Vicodin). The other 10% comes from heroin which is bought on the streets. Many people start by abusing prescription drugs and then move on to heroin when their prescription runs out or becomes too expensive for them to afford. This article will highlight the reasons for high opiate addiction.
Increase in Prescription Painkiller Usage
A major cause of the high rates of opiate addiction is the increased prescription of painkillers. In the 1990s and early 2000s, doctors began over-prescribing these drugs for all ailments, from chronic back pain to headaches and even post-surgery recovery. The result was that people started getting addicted to these drugs and became dependent on them. The problem with prescription painkillers is that they are highly addictive. These drugs affect the same pleasure centers in the brain as heroin, so it’s no surprise that many people who get hooked on opioids eventually switch over to heroin when they can no longer afford their prescriptions or when their doctor stops prescribing them more pills.
Increase in Heroin Usage
Another reason for the increase in opiate addiction is an increase in heroin usage. Heroin is becoming a popular drug among addicts because it is cheaper than prescription painkillers and easier to get than a doctor’s prescription. The price of heroin has dropped significantly over the years. Dealers can quickly sell bags of this drug for less than $5 per bag, which is much cheaper than what a prescription pill costs on the street.
The Rise Of Fentanyl And Carfentanil
Fentanyl has become one of the most dangerous drugs because it is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine by weight. This synthetic opioid has killed several people, including musicians Prince and Tom Petty. The drug is so potent that just a few grains can be fatal to an individual. Carfentanil is another opioid recently found on the streets in the United States. It is so strong that it’s used as an elephant tranquilizer. It is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl. This drug is so powerful that it has been linked to several overdoses in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
Higher Opiate Exposure in Young Adults
According to the CDC, the number of people who have used heroin for the first time in their lifetime has risen from 15.7 percent in 1990 to 22.4 percent in 2013. This means that more people are getting addicted to opiates at a younger age, posing a serious risk for young adults.
Overall Increase in Drug Use and Addictions
In 2014, 16 million Americans over 12 years old had used an illicit drug at least once. Furthermore, 43 percent of all Americans between 12 and 18 years old have tried marijuana at least once during their lifetime, up from 24 percent in 1991. The sudden surge in the number of experimenting teens and adults will cause an increase in the cases of drug addiction to opiates and other drugs. There have been many efforts made by government agencies and law enforcement officers to curb this epidemic.
However, it hasn’t been enough to make a real difference. One of the most effective ways to prevent drug addiction is by empowering teens with good information about how drugs work, how to identify potentially harmful substances, and how to avoid them.
What Can You Do?
To prevent your child from becoming addicted to or abusing any drug, you need to educate yourself and give proper advice if your teen has a problem. Creating a healthy environment for open communications might help your child open up about their struggles and mitigate drug use in the long run. Call us at 772-266-5320.