The roots of the opioid epidemic in 2019 can be traced back to 1991. That’s when we saw an increase in the number of prescriptions written for opioid-like drugs. Pharmaceutical companies brushed aside concerns about the potential for abuse. They made public statements asserting there was little risk to the population at large. We now know that it was the start of a crisis that ended up devastating community after community around the country.
What Led to the Opioid Epidemic in 2019
The opioid crisis took hold when doctors stopped limiting prescriptions of opioids to patients with non-cancer related pain. It became the go-to prescriptive for anyone complaining of chronic pain from an illness or injury. The problem got so bad that by 1999, 86 percent of opioid users did not have cancer.
The second wave of the opioid crisis, which hit around 2010, brought with it a rise in the number of heroin deaths. It became the top alternative for people desperate for a fix once federal regulators cracked down on the practice of over-prescribing opioid drugs. Things got worse as people also began using versions of synthetic opioids, with Fentanyl also becoming a popular substitute.
The Impacts of the Opioid Epidemic of 2019
Eighty percent of heroin users started off abusing opioid drugs. There is not a state in the union that hasn’t been touched by the opioid epidemic. One of the hardest-hit places has been the Midwest, which saw a 70 percent increase in opioid overdoses from 2016 to 2017. Larger cities also saw a 54 percent increase in opioid overdoses over 16 states.
The rise in deaths from opioid overdoses may overshadow another grim reality. Some experts believe that suicide may be the actual reason behind up to 30 percent of opioid deaths. One study found that up to 60 percent of opioid abusers had thoughts of suicide at some point, even while receiving help for other medical and mental health issues.
Those with opioid addiction were twice as likely to make at least one suicide attempt. Researchers believe that might be because of the pain factor that drove individuals to use opioids. People suffering from chronic pain were more likely to experience mood disorders like depression, which could play a role in attempting suicide.
Other Fallout From the Opioid Crisis
- Rise in infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C because of sharing needles
- Increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome because of opioid abuse while pregnant
- Rising costs related to healthcare and criminal justice proceedings
How the Government is Approaching the Opioid Epidemic as of 2019
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) put initiatives in place to make treatment and recovery services more accessible to the general population. They also encouraged the use of drugs that reversed overdoses among medical personnel.
Meanwhile, the CDC continues to support states in combating opioid abuse. They collect information on spikes in opioid usage, help with responses to overdoses, and work with communities to combat the spread of the crisis.
Seek Help at The Right Step
Our facility provides a variety of treatments and services to help those looking to survive the opioid epidemic in 2019.
If you need help for yourself or a loved one, contact The Right Step today by calling 713.528.3709.