Opioid epidemic and its effect on the public

PrescrDrug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. More than six out of ten drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.  Over the last 20 plus years the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids and heroin has quadrupled. Each day, 91 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Many of those are from those who abuse drugs, but approximately 40 of those 91 are from people who have legitimate prescriptions for the medication, but are victims of overdoses. These deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. The others are from illegal procurement of those drugs; as well as heroin.

With the prescription medications, usually prescribed for pain, the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, the use of these opioids can have a number of side effects even when taken as directed. Those effects are what sometimes lead to overdoses. They include an increased tolerance to the medication, causing one to take more of the medication for the same pain relief.  Patients may develop a physical dependence producing symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped. They can also cause sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, and depression.

Measures have taken and are being constantly restructured to prevent these overdoses from occurring. State prescription drug laws have tightened and restrictions have been put in place on the period of time they can be used and the use of other non-opioid pain relievers. More education is being given to prescribers, management strategies through insurance programs are being used regarding prior authorization, quantity limits, and frequent reviews of the patient’s usage. There is also more patient education on the safe storage and disposal of prescription opioids.

To enable the fight against the opioid crisis…

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