Even though pharmaceutical drugs are technically legal, the rise of their abuse has exceeded that of the illegal street drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one component of the Department of Health and Human Services, is calling the problem an epidemic.
Drugs like heroin and cocaine create major problems in the lives of its users, ranging from financial despair to medical and mental health complications, from the loss of jobs to the irreversible strain on relationships with friends and family members, as does the abuse of prescription painkillers.
This category of drugs, called opiates, were created to dull pain, to control coughing, and to stop diarrhea. Heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone are derived from opium that comes from the poppy plant. The pharmaceutical versions of opiates, called opioids, were created to mimic the effects of opiates.
Pharmaceutical opioids include:
- Hydrocodone, better known as Vicodin, Norco, Hycodan, Tussend, and Lortab
- Oxycodone, better known as OxyContin, Oxyneo, Percodan, and Percocet
- Oxymorphone, better known as Opana and Numorphan
- Hydromorphone, better known as Dilaudid
- Meperidine, better known as Demerol
- Naloxone, better known as Narcan
While people who become addicted to a pill like Vicodin do not have the same risk of contracting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C from the use of dirty needles, a whole equally dangerous set of risks come into play.
Opiates affect almost every organ and tissue located throughout the human body.
The physical effects of prescription opiate abuse include:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Insensitivity to pain, which people need to identify immediate danger or physical harm
- Lowered heart and respiration rates
- Pupils becoming pinpoint and no longer reacting to changes in light
- Speech becoming slurred
- Coordination negatively impacted
- Eyelids droop and the head nods forward
- Sudden hearing loss
- Severe constipation
- Dulled sexual desire and sensation
- Stopping the production of natural pain-relieving endorphins in the brain
- Overdose, leading to brain damage or death
The Growing and Deadly Epidemic: Prescription Painkiller Addiction
The CDC has labeled the growing problem an epidemic because the damage of prescription painkiller addiction has quickly spread to every part of the country. According to their data, the CDC reports that 100 people die everyday of a prescription drug overdose in the U.S.
Not only are prescription opiates extremely addictive, they are also creating a complete inability to stop in their users. The progression from light use rapidly escalates to addiction because the power of opiates is beyond what one person needs for pain relief.
Even when prescribed appropriately for chronic pain, or intense pain following an accident or an injury, drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin are abused even when pain is no longer present. A person, who has been in pain is afraid to go off the drugs that make him or her feel good all the time. When a refill is possible, the person calls it in, whether or not the physical need is present.
Regardless of how prescription painkiller abuse starts, it is important to seek help to stop it. Addiction to pain pills has reached epidemic proportions, but help is available. The FDA and the DEA are working on changing regulations and administration of Vicodin, but that does not help those who are addicted right now.
Do you know someone who has been abusing a painkiller? Are you taking more Vicodin than prescribed, or without a prescription at all?
Contact the treatment team at Balboa Horizons to learn how to make the changes necessary to stop opiate addiction! The treatment center’s staff is ready to help you determine the next step toward healing and a new life without life-threatening drugs and behavioral choices.
Balboa Horizons is here for you. Call now 877-309-4593.