The opioid epidemic is spreading in the United States and taking many lives. In fact, around 50 people die because of an opioid overdose every day. And unfortunately, that rate keeps on growing. Opioids are extremely helpful if taken with the help of pill reminder app and under the supervision of a doctor. However, non-supervised use may result in serious health problems leading to death.
According to healthcare specialists, opioids should only be taken as directed by your doctor. If non-opioid options are available, try to stay away from opioids and manage your pain using those options.
Knowing in detail about opioids can help you develop a better understanding of these medications and avoid potential problems.
Here we have composed this list of 9 most important opioid facts which are sure to help you learn more about these medications. Give them a solid read and stay healthy.
Opioid Abuse Can Lead to Heroin Addiction
According to several surveys, 3 out of 4 heroin addicts caught their addiction from opioids. This is an alarming stat because heroin is a dangerous drug – the number of deaths caused by heroin is twice the death count caused by cocaine.
The majority of people use heroin because opioids can be too expensive or too difficult to get without a prescription. On the other hand, getting heroin is cheaper and easier. However, it doesn’t make it any less harmful because heroin overdose is dangerous and even the slightest of dosage errors can be deadly.
Opioids Act in A Similar Way as OTC Drugs
Many individuals believe that opioids work in a similar way as OTC drugs. They are also often confused with painkillers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and other off the shelf medications at your local pharmacy. But the truth is that there is a huge difference between opioids and these over-the-counter medications.
They act differently to relieve pain.
Opioid drugs interact with your central nervous system and bind to brain receptors to provide pain relief. On the other hand, instead of interacting with CNS, OTC drugs block natural pain-causing chemicals in your body to suppress pain.
Opioid Addiction Can Be Avoided If You Are Careful
Due to the fact that our bodies develop tolerance to opioids, their doses are required to be gradually increased over time. In other words, your current amount of dosage will stop being effective after some time. And it will need to be increased after doctor’s consultation, which means you’ll need more opioid to get the same effect.
Also, continued use of opioids leads to abuse which causes physical dependence. Stopping medication suddenly may result in withdrawal symptoms in individuals who have become opioid dependent.
Opioids Aren’t the Only Way to Treat Pain
Opioids provide short-term relief from severe pain. Previously, it was thought that opioids were the only option to treat pain, but recent studies have shown that using non-opioids like ibuprofen and acetaminophen in combination can be as effective as opioids.
12-18-Year-Old Individuals Are the Likeliest to Develop Opioid Addiction
The chances of addiction vary in different age groups. Individuals between the age of 12-18 years are more likely to develop opioid addiction than anyone else. The susceptibility among these individuals is so high that even a single dose may cause them to develop addiction.
Taking opioids can be such a pleasant experience for some patients that they will want it more than what is required for their pain.
It can be difficult to tell who’s at risk; therefore, doctors prefer to be conservative when prescribing these drugs.
Rural Areas Are Being Affected by Opioid Abuse More Than Urban Areas
Drug abuse is something that has been associated mainly with urban areas. But now, rural areas of the US are being equally affected by the issue. Among rural teens, opioid abuse is growing at an alarming rate. In 2014, 8.6% of rural teens were abusing opioids compared to 6.5% of urban teens. What’s more alarming is that rural teens don’t even consider substance abuse risky and mix opioids with other substances.
According to a research, people who use opioids before turning 18 are more likely to develop addiction in adulthood – this could mean that millions of rural teens will enter adulthood with a higher possibility of becoming opioids addicts.
Opioids Can Be Expensive
Billions of dollars are spent on opioids every year. Opioid abusers tend to get hospitalize more than non-users. A study found that people with opioid addiction generate an additional 5 to 15 thousand USD more in healthcare costs than an average American per year.
Women Are Affected by Opioids More Than Men
It may sound odd but women are more likely to develop opioid addiction than men. While many men suffer from painkiller overdose, women are more likely to die because of it. The reason behind this is the fact that women get painkillers prescribed to them more often, and use these drugs for longer periods than men. This can have devastating effects, particularly when you consider the potential impacts of opioid abuse on pregnant women and their newborns.
A condition called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is found in infants born to mothers with opioid dependence. It is a serious problem and children who are born with it can face developmental problems.
You Can Ask Your Doctor Questions About Opioids
Before taking an opioid, all patients should ask their doctor if it is absolutely necessary. You should also ask the doctor if a non-opioid alternative would be as effective as an opioid. When it comes to taking opioids using pill tracker app, take necessary precautions and communicate with your doctor to help reduce potential risks.