An undeclared emergency? Is opioid dependence really that big an issue? That title might seem a bit over the top, but in this page, I'll show you that in fact, we really are facing a major problem that is only getting worse.
I'll give you some sobering facts about the numbers of opioid overdose deaths, and how the rates continue to go up.
We'll present some insight into how the opioid receptors in our brains are affected by these drugs that are prescribed everyday in cities around the United States.
And we'll give you a few things to think about. Hopefully you'll recognize the depth of the dangers in the nightmare that is opioid dependence.
And finally, I'll tie this page into the wisdom we've been provided by authors of empowering books. We've presented their insight in other pages at books-empower.com, but once again the lessons fit into various areas of our lives.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports these startling numbers related to opioid overdose deaths, as of 2014. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in America, with opioid poisoning leading the way in this dubious category.
* Opioid addiction caused almost 19,000 deaths related to prescription pain relievers in 2014
* Heroin overdoses accounted for over 10,000 premature deaths in 2014
The numbers have surely gotten worse since then, as history shows us the death rates climb in unison with the number of prescriptions written for opioid painkillers.
According to that same report, "The overdose rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate."
Here are more numbers that will hopefully open some eyes to this national problem of opioid dependence.
* 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid pain relievers in 2012. That would provide every adult in our country with their own bottle of pills.
* Four out of five new heroin users started out on doctor-prescribed opioids.
* Almost 95% of those who answered a 2014 survey stated that their opioid addiction led them to switch to heroin because it was cheaper than prescribed drugs.
In this link, you'll read how women face a far greater risk of opioid dependence. You'll also read how as of 2014, nearly half a million Americans between the ages of 12-17 were already prescribed pain relievers and of that number, over 150,000 were part of the opioid addiction group.
Opioid dependence can obviously lead to addiction. In many health circles, this addiction is considered a chronic brain disease.
Our brains have receptors that allow opioids to attach to them. This is very similar to what we learned from two authors already featured at books-empower.com. In those pages it centered around sugar and insulin, but the premise is the same.
In the case of opioid dependence, when these opioid receptors allow this attachment, our brains release dopamine, which acts to relieve pain and to provide a sort of euphoria.
Our brains already perform this process naturally, but as opioids are hitting the receptors over and over, a certain level of resistance grows. Much like inflammation, our bodies try to compensate for perceived injury.
Natural endorphin are released to maintain this perceived euphoria, but over time our body simply cannot produce enough on it's own. Addiction has taken place and the victim craves more and more opioid power.
The body has become dependent on this external drug to maintain the "high." What might have begun as a way to relieve pain has spiraled downward into a major health battle.
Just below is a short video that explains this process.
This page is about opioid dependence. I present the following federal contradictions, merely to point out how this problem has been allowed to grow.
The U.S. government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. In the same category as heroin and LSD.
Since 2003, the Dept. of Human Services has held a patent for marijuana, calling it a "neural protectant" that can protect the brain from stroke.
In 2014, there were over 1 million arrests for drug violations, with over 80% being possession-related.
In 2016, congress passed a law that restricted the ability of the DEA to track down the root cause of this opioid dependence epidemic.
Andre Kolodny, director of "Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing," stated the following. "I'm shocked that Congress and the president would constrain DEA from taking on corporate drug dealers in the midst of the worst addiction epidemic in U.S. history. This law allows opioid distributors to reap enormous profits and operate with impunity at the public's expense."
Oxycontin and similar prescribed pain killers are proving to be a gateway to heroin usage and thereby a path to opioid overdose deaths. They are also a massive cash-producing machine for big pharmacy.
In 2007 Purdue Pharma was fined $600 million dollars for deceptive marketing. But then just 6 six years later, the FDA allowed the same company to market a similar version of this highly addictive drug.
Getting off these drugs is very difficult. Here are just a few opioid withdrawal symptoms.
* Anxiety, restlessness and insomnia
* Abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea
* Flu-like symptoms, including aching and chills
* Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
Opioid dependence is driven by one thing. Cash. And lots of it. Yes, much like obesity and other chronic diseases, bad choices by individuals are also part of the problem. Personal responsibility is paramount in this issue as in every other area of our lives.
But as we learned from Dr. Perlmutter in "Grain Brain," and from Dr. Kessler in "The End Of Overeating," we also being hit from the flanks by corporate interests who are profiting by recognizing how certain things like brain receptors work.
Get them hooked on sugar, on tobacco, or on pain killers, and do it at an early age. Then the money trail is locked into place.
Millions of dollars are spent on the war on drugs every year. But the fact is that much of the root cause of drug dependency can be traced right back to that medical prescription pad.
The federal government is blinded by enormous piles of big pharmacy cash. Too many doctors accept the advertising from big pharmacy stating their opioids are safe.
In our page about codependency, we highlighted Melody Beattie's thoughts on addiction and how it affects an entire family.
We have an entire section devoted to teaching our children about being involved and being their own best advocate.
The onslaught of opioid dependence is a perfect example of why we need to unite as a grass roots force determined to make a difference. This health epidemic is costing our nation millions of dollars and thousand of lives lost.
It doesn't have to be this way.