The Personal Side of a National Problem
In case you haven’t noticed, an epidemic of opioid abuse is currently ravaging the country. People are dying from overdoses in record numbers all over the country and entire communities are collapsing under the weight of opioid addiction.
But this is not “merely” a national problem. It’s an epidemic that’s hitting Nevadans more and more with each passing year. As you will see, Nevada’s state government is currently taking forceful measures to stem the tide of the opioid epidemic. But until the measures begin to have their intended effects, people will continue to suffer if they don’t receive help.
This does not mean the situation is hopeless. If you or someone you love is suffering from opioid dependence, effective treatments are available, treatments that address opioid addiction directly and from a variety of perspectives. Recovery from opioid addiction requires hard work, introspection, and professional help, but it remains entirely possible.
Opioid addiction is a disease that affects the entire family. If you and your family are thus afflicted, this post is designed precisely for you. In it, we’ll discuss the following aspects of opioid addiction and treatment:
- A description of the two main classes of opioid drugs
- An explanation of why opioid drugs are so addictive
- An overview of America’s opioid crisis
- A discussion of what the State of Nevada is doing to address the opioid crisis, including the efforts of Assembly Bill 474
- What you can do to help a loved one suffering from opioid addiction
What Are Opioids?
The simplest way to define opioids is to say that they are highly addictive, pain relieving drugs that are either based on or directly derived from opium. There are essentially two broad classes of opioid drugs – synthetic and non-synthetic. Although heroin is, of course, an illegal street drug and never prescribed, the others are often dispensed to patients for moderate to severe pain.
The most commonly used (and abused) non-synthetic opioid drugs are heroin and morphine. The synthetic class of opioid drugs contains dozens of different compounds, but the most common ones include oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and Fentanyl. This synthetic class of opioids tends to be more concentrated than non-synthetic versions and it is therefore very easy to overdose on them.
Why are Opioids So Addictive?
When taken as prescribed for short periods of time, opioids are highly effective analgesic drugs that can also be used as an anesthetic. But when taken long-term or at non-prescription levels, opioids can become addictive very quickly. The basis of their addictive qualities is highly complex, but it can be described briefly as follows.
Opioids work by interacting with pain receptors in the brain. Taken properly, they are effective at relieving the short term pain that results from injuries, surgery, etc. But when taken at high doses, they induce a powerful sense of euphoria in the user and can lead to repeated use. Users develop high levels of tolerance very quickly from this repeated use and must soon use more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect.
The results of long term use are predictable and often tragic. The tolerance that ensues from long term use becomes physical dependence and eventually, physical and psychological addiction. Persons who stop using opioid drugs abruptly experience intense and often devastating symptoms of withdrawal. These opioid withdrawal symptoms, which include nausea, diarrhea, intense pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, and massive depression, make opioids incredibly difficult to stop without medical detox and professional help.
America’s Opioid Crisis
It was a confluence of many factors that brought us to the point of the current opioid epidemic. Non-synthetic opioids like heroin have been abused in the United States for decades, but the problem became more pronounced as more and more synthetic opioids were developed and doctors began prescribing them more often for chronic pain relief.
Although it is impossible for something as clinical as numbers to tell the highly personalized story of opioid addiction, the statistics associated with America’s opioid crisis are both revealing and startling. You can think of the following numbers as a snapshot of the suffering that is currently ravaging our country and its families.
It is estimated that between 8-12% of patients who are prescribed these drugs develop an opioid abuse disorder. And while prescription opioids can be just as damaging as street drugs, some three out of four new heroin users started with synthetic opioids.
The death toll of opioids is astonishing. In 2015 alone, some 33,000 people died from overdoses of opioid drugs, nearly half of them from prescription drugs. The rate of opioid overdose death has quadrupled since 1999, with the state of Nevada seeing an increase of almost 11% between 2014-15 alone.
As of June 2017, more than 90 people a day are dying from opioid overdoses. Think about that for a moment. This means that approximately 4 people are dying per hour, a staggering and heartbreaking statistic under any metric. And these are people from every walk of life, not just the so-called “street junky” depicted in pop culture. These are human beings with lives, dreams, and families.
The bottom line is that opioid abuse has taken a massive toll on our country, one that has affected so many layers of our culture that substantial changes are now in order if we are to prevent further damage and save lives. In the next section, we’ll have a look at some of the steps the state of Nevada is talking to accomplish these goals.
What the State of Nevada is Doing to Address Opioid Abuse
Fortunately, state officials in Nevada are taking action to combat the growing epidemic. First, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt has joined with his counterparts across the country to investigate the role of drug manufacturers in the opioid crisis. Mr. Laxalt’s participation is an encouraging sign that the state of Nevada is taking the problem seriously.
Another such signal was the recent passing of Assembly Bill 474, a broad piece of legislation that goes a long way toward increasing Nevada’s overall responsiveness to the opioid crisis. Among other measures, the bill mandates that patients receive a mental health evaluation before they can be prescribed opioid medications. It also requires that physicians report any overdose cases they’re involved in immediately so that the state has the most up-to-date information possible.
And perhaps most importantly, Assembly Bill 474 requires that doctors inform patients about alternatives to painkillers and treatment options that are available for opioid dependency. Taken together, these measures will hopefully begin to make a dent in the opioid crisis at the collective level.
What You Can Do To Help a Loved One Suffering from Opioid Addiction
The measures that the state of Nevada and officials across the country are taking will hopefully prevent opioid abuse in the future, but there are also treatment options for those who are addicted and suffering right now. Inpatient treatment at Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is one of the most effective of these options. Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is a unique treatment facility, one that provides highly individualized programming that has proven very successful in helping opioid addicts stop using completely and achieve permanent recovery.
There are many reasons for Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital’s high rate of success with opiate dependency. First, each treatment plan is customized to fit each patient’s unique and specific needs. Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital also provides the safety and sense of community that is so beneficial to the recovery process. Just as importantly, it’s staffed by well-trained professionals who are dedicated, compassionate, and prepared to do whatever it takes to help you or loved one recover.
Opioid addicts tend to respond well to inpatient treatment, especially the customized varieties that are provided at Desert Parkway Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. These treatment plans are holistic, including both physical and emotional components. They treat the entire person, not simply their addiction. It’s a combination that’s been proven to work for families all over the country and one that can provide you or your loved one permanent relief.
An opioid addict is a sick person who needs and deserves professional help. As you can see from the description of the opioid epidemic, you’re most assuredly not alone if someone you love is suffering from this terrible affliction. No one sets out to become an opiate addict. Addiction is a disease that is caused by a complex set of environmental, social, and genetic factors. The situation for addicted persons and their families is far from hopeless.
Help is available for you and your family. In fact, it’s only a phone call away. Please contact us immediately if you or someone you love needs help.
We are available 24/7. Call 877-663-7976. Hablamos español.