Although helpful when used under doctor supervision, pain medications known as opioids have addictive properties that can be potentially life-threatening. Here are a few statistics that truly illustrate how widespread opioid addiction has become in the United States.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific class of narcotic substances derived from the opium poppy plant and traditionally used for pain management. This class of substances includes both legal narcotics such as hydrocodone or fentanyl, as well as illegal narcotics such as heroin or kratom. In both their legal and illegal forms, opioids have highly addictive properties, and if used improperly, they can require interventions from friends and family or more rigorous addiction management.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), there were 52,404 deaths by drug overdose in 2015, and opioid overdoses made up a significant amount of this number. Roughly 20,100 overdoses were related to prescription pain-relieving medications, and 12,990 overdoses were related to heroin. It is also important to note that fatalities related to drug overdoses have greatly increased in the past few decades; in 2008, the rate of overdose deaths was almost four times as much as it was in 1999, according to the ASAM.
The rates above may be increasing due to an increase in the number of opioid prescriptions being written in the United States. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which, according to the ASAM, is enough to give each American their own bottle of pills. The organization also notes that around 80 percent of those who turn to heroin began their additions by abusing prescription pain relievers such as opioids. In a 2014 survey, 94 percent of responders with opioid addiction reported that they turned to heroin because prescription painkillers were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”
Opioid Addiction in Delaware
Delaware is not immune to the opioid epidemic in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016 saw 154 opioid-related overdose deaths, which is 16.9 people per 100,000, making it higher than the national rate of 13.3 people per 100,000. In 2015, 768,974 prescriptions for opioid pain relievers were written, which is about 80 prescriptions for every 100 Delaware citizens.
Although opioid addiction is widespread, it can be overcome using the right resources. At Alpha Care Medical, we’ve combined behavioral health and medical treatments to help patients combat their addiction and improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is suffering from opioid dependency, schedule your appointment with Alpha Care Medical or call us at (800) 818-8680.