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What Is the Opioid Epidemic?

The opioid epidemic, or opioid overdose crisis, is one of the greatest public health problems in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, largely due to the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic specifically refers to the growing number of deaths and hospitalizations from opioids, which includes prescription medications, illicit drugs and analogs. Analog drugs are chemically similar to other illegal narcotic drugs or substances, like heroin. To make matters worse, the COVID pandemic has made an already bad situation much worse. In the last year, every state has reported a spike or increase in overdose deaths or other related problems during the pandemic.

What are opioids?

Opioids are substances that act on opioid receptors in the nervous system to produce morphine-like effects, like drowsiness or euphoria. Medically, they are primarily used for and synonymous with pain relief. Common opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Herion
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Tramadol

The prescription opioid epidemic

Approximately 80% of people suffering from an addiction to heroin started with a prescription for an opioid pain reliever. How did it get so bad? In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies began promoting synthetic and semisynthetic opioids to doctors indicating they were either less- or nonaddictive in comparison to morphine and had no ill side effects. As a result, doctors readily prescribed these drugs to patients as they did not realize the repercussions. Opioid pain relievers are highly addictive, so it is easy for the human brain to crave more.

Understanding the signs of opioid addiction

Knowing the dangers, signs and symptoms of opioid abuse can help save someone’s life. Look for these common signs:

  • Shallow or slow breathing rate
  • Physical agitation
  • Poor decision making
  • Abandoning responsibilities
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Lowered motivation

Alpine Recovery Lodge offers specialized treatment for those who are addicted to prescription medications. Powerful medications, like opioids, can create dependence because of the way they affect your brain. If you or someone you love is abusing prescription medications or using them in a way other than prescribed, Alpine Recovery Lodge can help.

When you’re ready to overcome your addiction through a medically supervised detox followed by research-based treatment tailored to your unique needs, call 801-874-3056 and speak confidentially with a recovery expert.