The opioid overdose crisis has been one of the most devastating blows to befall the United States that has taken more lives than any American war, natural disaster or acts of terror. The efforts to curtail the proliferation of this deadly outbreak has been met with much criticism as most of the populations continue to show the signs of opioid abuse and continue to witness a marked escalation in opioid overdose.
In 2015, opioids (prescription opiates and heroin) had taken over 33,000 American lives, which is the highest number of deaths ever recorded in a given year. Prepared from the opium poppy or their synthetic analogs, opioids like morphine, heroin, tramadol, etc. have the potential to inflict severe repercussions. In case of an opioid overdose, one can witness respiratory depression, permanent brain damage and death due to the severe pharmacological effects of opioids.
The impact of opioid-related overdoses is substantially different from other substances like marijuana, alcohol, cocaine or methamphetamines. Being a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, all forms of opioids affect the CNS that plays a key role in regulating breathing and heart beating. The high doses of opioids can slow down or stop the functioning of the system, which can turn out to be extremely life-threatening. Despite the grave consequences, opioid overdose has spiked to an endemic level.
Thin line between elation and overdose
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. A report published by the Trust for America’s Health found that between 2009 and 2013:
- Drug overdose deaths decreased only in six states and increased in 26 states.
- 36 states and Washington D.C. had more number of deaths due to opioid overdose than from motor vehicle accidents.
Opioid overdose and addiction can cause some detrimental health outcomes even if the victim escapes death, such as brain damage, increased tolerance, imbalance of neurotransmitters and inflammation. The lethality of opioids is amplified in the following situations:
- When taken with other drugs (Xanax) that can depress the CNS.
- When mixed with alcohol.
- When older adults forget that they had initially taken their opioid medication and take it again.
- When taken to induce a state of high.
Ins and outs of opioid overdose
Opioids are generally prescribed by a doctor to alleviate chronic pain, particularly after a surgery or injury. After consumption, it affixes to the opioid receptors in the CNS and the gastrointestinal tract after being broken down, which can cause a reaction. Interestingly, opioids can cause an incessant flow of elation and other euphoric feelings that are quite similar to way one may feel after conquering a great challenge or achieving something of a great magnitude.
Although opioids are also naturally produced in the human body in the form of endogenous opioids known as endorphins, it is neither enough to manage chronic pain nor adequate to cause an overdose or related symptoms. When opioid medication is taken in higher than recommended doses, it can lead to a lapse in breathing or heartbeat or can cause a total stalemate.
Abusing prescription pills is dangerous
In spite of the reinforced effort of the law enforcement agencies, health care sector, education institutes and media to control the menace of prescription drug abuse, very little success has been achieved in curtailing the level of overdose. Since 1999 to 2014, the opioid epidemic, in particular, has almost tripled. Among 47,055 drug overdoses deaths, opioid-related overdose deaths contributed about 61 percent to the death tally in 2014. One of the best ways to diminish the repercussion of opioid abuse is to spread awareness and encourage patients to seek treatment to ensure early recovery. By undergoing detoxification, which is the stepping-stone of treatment, one can expunge toxins accumulated due to the consistent abuse of opioids.
If you or your loved one has developed an addiction to opioids, contact the California Detox Helpline to access the finest addiction treatment centers in California that specialize in delivering the best treatments based on holistic evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-780-2495 or chat online with our medical representatives to know more about the detox and rehab centers in California.