Americans don’t like to feel pain, as our addiction to Opiate Pain Medication supports. Teens, Young Adults and Seniors are filling our emergency rooms with overdoses to Opiates.
How Does Addiction Start?
Teen surveys have consistently found that the family is fundamental to keeping children away from tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Teen drug abuse plays a major role in addiction. People who do not use tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs or misuse prescription drugs before age 21 are virtually certain never to do so.
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teens who abuse prescription drugs are twice as likely to use alcohol, five times more likely to use marijuana, and twelve to twenty times more likely to use illegal street drugs such as heroin, Ecstasy and cocaine than teens who do not abuse prescription drugs. In 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration found that abuse of the painkiller Fentanyl killed more than 1,000 people that year in the US. It is thirty to fifty times more powerful than heroin.
Prescription Drugs Largest Percentage of Overdoses
Prescription drug abuse causes the largest percentage of deaths from drug overdosing. Of the 22,400 drug overdose deaths in the US in 2005, opioid painkillers were the most commonly found drug, accounting for 38.2% of these deaths. In 2005, 4.4 million teenagers (aged 12 to 17) in the US admitted to taking prescription painkillers, and 2.3 million took a prescription stimulant such as Ritalin. 2.2 million abused over-the-counter drugs such as cough syrup. The average age for first-time users is now 13 to 14.
OxyContin is a prescription painkiller that contains the opiate oxycodone in a capsule that releases the drug slowly over a period of 12 hours. Since its introduction in 1995, OxyContin has become popular with abusers and addicts. It is stolen and diverted to the illicit market or dissolved in water for snorting or injection. (Chemists are working on a capsule that will be more difficult to tamper with.)
Seniors & Prescription Drug Addiction
Hundreds of thousands of seniors are misusing prescription medication, mostly narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications. As the problem has grown, so have the consequences, from treatment program admissions to emergency room visits and overdose deaths.
Among people 55 and older seeking substance abuse treatment from 2007-2011, there was a 46% jump in the share of cases involving prescription narcotics, SAMHSA data show. Annual emergency room visits by people 65 and over for misuse of pharmaceuticals climbed more than 50% during that time, to more than 94,000 a year.
Breaking Free From Opiate Addiction
Getting into a 90 day opiate addiction treatment program is the first step to kicking the opiate habit. Depending on the severity of the addiction, detox may necessary. Detoxification for some addicts is the beginning of treatment. Detox is controlled and medically supervised withdrawal from the drug. (By itself, this is not a solution, because most addicts will eventually resume taking the drug again unless they get further help.) The withdrawal symptoms include agitation; anxiety; tremors; muscle aches; hot and cold flashes; sometimes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms are not life-threatening, but are extremely uncomfortable. The intensity of the reaction depends on the dose and speed of withdrawal. Short-acting opiates tend to produce more intense but briefer symptoms.