One of the best tools in your belt for dealing with the opioid crisis is knowledge.
THE BASICS OF OPIOIDS AND ADDICTION
What Is an Opioid?
- Opioids are a class of medication
- They are based on a natural ingredient found in the opium poppy plant
- They are commonly used medically as pills, IV infusions, and patches
- Examples include OxyContin®, Vicodin®, MS Contin®, Duragesic®
- Though not a medication, heroin is also an opioid
How Does Addiction Occur?
- Opioids act on receptors in the brain and other organs to block pain signals
- Opioids release dopamine (Dopamine is a messenger that causes euphoria, which makes the body want more opioids)
- Just under 80% of Americans who abuse heroin reported misusing prescription opioids before starting heroin
- Every day, approximately 5,500 Americans abuse a prescription opioid for the first time
Misuse: Using a prescription medication in a way other than it was prescribed, even if for a legitimate medical reason, or taking a medication to feel euphoria (high)
Abuse: Specific term that indicates the use was for the purpose of getting “high” or that there was no medical value to the use
Tolerance: After long-term use of opioids, even at prescribed doses, people may develop a tolerance that requires higher doses or more frequent doses to get the same effect
Dependence: Repeated use causes the brain to adapt so that it only functions normally in the presence of the drug (Chronic opioid users may be dependent but not addicted)
Addiction: A chronic disease characterized by compulsive or uncontrollable drug-seeking and use despite harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain (This can be due to prescription or illegal drugs)
Substance Use Disorder (SUD): When the long-term use of alcohol and/or drugs causes significant impairment both clinically and functionally, such as health problems, disability, or failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home
The Opioid Epidemic
It All Comes Down to This:
Too Many Prescriptions
Too Many Days
Too High of Dose
By the Numbers
25% OF PATIENTS
struggle – as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggle with opioid addiction.
opioid prescriptions were written in 2019 alone
125 PEOPLE PER DAY
died from opioid overdose in 2018
died in 2019
people abused prescription opioids
people were diagnosed with an opioid-use disorder