Pain Killers and the Opioid Crisis

For nearly two decades, the opioid abuse crisis has devastated American communities and torn families apart. The misuse and abuse of these substances has claimed countless lives, which span a wide variety of ages and ethnicities.

The opioid crisis has impacted almost everyone, from corporate professionals and blue collar workers to students and luminaries such as Prince and Heath Ledger.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, those aged 45 to 54 had the highest death rate from drug overdose at 30 deaths per 100,000. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths among non-Hispanic, white Americans was nearly 3.5 times the rate it was in 1999.

Opioids, as defined by Drugabuse.gov, are a class of drugs that include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and Methadone, which are all available legally by prescription. The category also includes codeine and morphine.

When taken for a short duration of time and used as prescribed by a physician, opioids are generally safe, but even when prescribed, regular use can lead to dependence.

Beyond providing pain relief, these substances (with the exception of methadone) create a sense of euphoria, which is why they’re too often misused and abused. Abuse occurs when these substances are taken in ways other than how they were prescribed, are taken in larger quantities than prescribed, or when taken without a doctor’s prescription. Of course, misuse and abuse may lead to overdoses and death.