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Opioid Abuse

Understanding Opiate Misuse

Every day more than 130 people die after overdosing on opioids

The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relieversheroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid according to the CDC. That same year, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).

OPIOID use disorder definition

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD): The DSM-5 defines opioid use disorder as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two out of 11 criteria within a 12-month period:

  • Using larger amounts of opioids or over a longer period than was intended

  • Persistent desire to cut down or unsuccessful efforts to control use

  • Great deal of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from use

  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use substance

  • Failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home due to recurrent opioid use

  • Continued use despite recurrent or persistent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by opioid use

  • Giving up or reducing social, occupational, or recreational activities due to opioid use

  • Recurrent opioid use in physically hazardous situations

  • Continued opioid use despite physical or psychological problems caused or exacerbated by its use

  • Tolerance (marked increase in amount; marked decrease in effect)

  • Withdrawal syndrome as manifested by cessation of opioids or use of opioids (or a closely related substance) to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Severity of opioid use disorder is categorized as mild (presence of 2-3 symptoms), moderate (4-5 symptoms), or severe (6 or more symptoms).

How Opioid Addiction Occurs

Opioid misuse is a leading cause of drug overdoses in the United States. Anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing an opioid use disorder. Opioids are designed to trigger the release of endorphins, the brain’s positive feeling neurotransmitters. Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure. When an opioid dose wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible. This is the beginning of the path toward potential addiction. It’s impossible to determine whether someone will or will not develop an opioid addiction but factors such as family history and how long someone uses opioids can play a role. 

The Mayo Clinic reports researchers have found that taking opioid medications for more than a few days increases the risk of long-term use, which increases the risk of addiction. The odds you’ll still be on opioids a year after starting a short course increase after only five days on opioids.

Women & Opioid Addiction 

According to the National Women’s Health Network, women have a unique set of risk factors for opioid addiction. Women make up 65 percent of total opioid prescriptions and 40 percent more women than men become persistent opioid users following surgery. Women are also more likely than men to have chronic pain. Compared with men, women are also more likely to be prescribed opioid medications, to be given higher doses and to use opioids for longer periods of time. Women may also have biological tendencies to become dependent on prescription pain relievers more quickly than are men.

OPIATE Abuse

Know The Facts About Opiate Abuse 

47,000 Deaths

$78.5 Billion

1.7 Million People

In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid according to the CDC.

The CDC estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

An estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder (not mutually exclusive).

signs of OPIATE abuse

Opiates, also known as “painkillers,” include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, fentanyl and morphine. These substances are effective pain relievers when taken as directed by a physician. However, the calming effects that opioid painkillers produce are habit-forming and can lead to future patterns of abuse.

     

    The most common physical and behavioral signs of opiate abuse and addiction are:

    • Needle marks on arms and legs from intravenous (injected) use
    • Constricted, “pinpoint” pupils
    • Having trouble staying awake, or falling asleep at inappropriate times
    • Flushed, itchy skin
    • Withdrawing from social activities that were once enjoyed
    • Sudden and dramatic mood swings that seem out of character
    • Impulsive actions and decision-making
    • Engaging in risky activities, such as driving under the influence
    • Visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain more prescriptions