For the past decade, American men and women of all ages and social standings have been grappling with what is now known as a national opioid epidemic. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in 2018, there were an average of 128 opioid-related overdose deaths every day. Opioids range from prescription painkillers like oxycodone, morphine and hydrocodone to illicit drugs like heroin, and potent painkillers that are used to cut heroin, like fentanyl. This national crisi doesn’t just affect individuals and families, but it has a major economic impact – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the opioid epidemic costs the U.S. upwards of $78 billion dollars on an annual basis. This massive cost includes the involvement of the criminal justice system, productivity losses and healthcare. The cost also includes addiction treatment. Sadly, over 90 percent of Americans who are addicted to opioids won’t get the professional treatment they need and deserve.
Opioid Addiction Facts
How did things get so bad? Sometime during the late 1990s, prescription painkillers were widely distributed by many major pharmaceutical companies. These companies assured prescribing physicians and the general public that these drugs weren’t unsafe or habit-forming. It was soon discovered that opioid pain relievers were both addictive and dangerous – however, by this time, many American adults were already hooked. As overdose deaths began to climb nationwide, the government implemented crackdowns on distribution; unfortunately, it was too late for many. The crackdowns meant that those who had developed addictions couldn’t easily get their hands on more prescription painkillers, so many turned to heroin as a more readily available and affordable alternative. Below are some facts revolving around the opioid addiction crisis, and the role that the surge in painkiller prescriptions played in the national heroin epidemic.
- Nearly 30 percent of individuals who are prescribed painkillers by a medical professional end up abusing them.
- Out of this 30 percent, between 8 and 12 percent will develop a serious opioid addiction.
- Out of those who are prescribed painkillers, between 4 and 6 percent will eventually transition to heroin abuse.
- In 2017, there were over 47,000 deaths linked directly to opioid abuse.
- During the same year, 652,000 Americans struggled with a heroin addiction and 1.7 million struggled with an addiction to prescription painkillers.
- Opioid overdose deaths increased over 30 percent from 2016-2017 in 45 states.
The crisis is ongoing. Rates of opioid overdose death are continuing to increase, and the majority of those that need help aren’t receiving it. This isn’t because affordable and effective care isn’t available. We have extensive experience working with those who are struggling with opioid addiction of any severity. Our comprehensive and highly individualized addiction treatment program helps men and women of all ages get started on the road to recovery, and continue on in their personal journeys. We offer medical detox to help with opioid withdrawal, inpatient treatment and ongoing aftercare. If you’re still unsure as to whether or not you have a problem – or whether or not you’re ready to reach out for help – we’ve compiled a list of 8 opioid-related facts to help with your decision.
Quitting Opioids – 8 Facts
- Only 10 percent of people who are addicted to opioids seek treatment – but that doesn’t mean that treatment isn’t available.
There are many reasons why an addict might avoid seeking treatment. These could include denial, fear of making major changes, or overwhelming feelings of shame. For many opioid addicts, admitting that help is necessary is an extremely difficult step to take. If we admit that there’s a problem, it makes it real. It’s important to keep in mind that addiction is a disease, and that there’s absolutely no shame in recognizing that you need a little assistance to get you started on the path to recovery.
- Quitting will likely save your life. Once you reach a certain point in your addiction you might stop caring whether or not you overdose. As grim and disheartening as it is, many opioid addicts will reach this place – hoping that they don’t wake up. Sadly, many opioid addicts do lose their lives to overdose. It can be difficult to imagine being in a spot where you look forward to waking up every day – where you actually feel immensely grateful for it. But this is a reality for people in addiction recovery. Reclaim your life…. and start living it.
- Don’t be afraid to take medications prescribed by an addiction specialist while you’re in inpatient treatment. There is a lot of misinformation circulating when it comes to medications like buprenorphine (suboxone). Because physical and mental cravings can be so intense in early recovery, medical professionals might prescribe a medication like suboxone to diminish cravings and alleviate symptoms of withdrawal. Attempting to take suboxone on your own accord can be extremely dangerous, however. For this reason (amongst many others) it’s important to check into an inpatient rehab and take any medications that experienced addiction specialists prescribe. Never attempt to withdraw without medical assistance!
- Relapse is common amongst recovering heroin addicts, but this doesn’t mean that relapse needs to be a part of your story. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Research that tracks individuals in treatment over extended periods, most people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.” Relapse is common, but it is common amongst those that don’t stay committed to a structured recovery program. If you allow yourself the opportunity to heal and you come equipped with the willingness to do what it takes, you will recover.
- A comprehensive approach to treatment will be the most effective in maintaining long-term sobriety. Recovery can’t be half-assed, plain and simply. If you go to a medical detox, you’re well on your way… considering you also go to inpatient rehab and then transition to a sober living environment. Addiction treatment is a multifaceted process, and in order to truly reap the benefits you must commit to taking the advice of your recovery team.
- Talking about your problem with others and being open to honest feedback is important. Our initial reaction when we’re struggling is to keep things bottled up. You might be ashamed that you aren’t “doing recovery” perfectly, or that quitting opioids was harder than you initially thought. In order to continue on in recovery you have to be willing to talk to others about what you’re going through. Honesty is essential. Not only that, but you have to be willing to take the advice of others seriously – especially if they have significantly more clean time than you do!
- Quitting won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. It might sound cliche, but it’s true. You will get out of your recovery the amount of effort that you put into it.
- Once you get sober, you’ll be amazed at how rapidly your life improves. You really will start living a life beyond your wildest dreams – all in a matter of weeks, depending on the amount of effort you’re willing to put in. Active addiction truly strips us of our humanity. You might have forgotten what it feels like to be authentically happy – what it feels like to laugh or smile and actually mean it. Within days of getting clean and sober your body and mind will start to regulate, and you’ll realize that there is a whole world beyond drug addiction just waiting for you.
Remember, the only one that can make the decision to get clean is you. No matter how badly your friends and family might want you to seek treatment, you’re the one that has to pick up the phone and make the call. Even if you aren’t fully ready to commit, we’re available to answer any and all questions you may have. We look forward to speaking with you soon!