Opioid Epidemic Not Driven by Prescription Painkillers

 Opioid Addiction, Prescription Drug Abuse  Comments Off on Opioid Epidemic Not Driven by Prescription Painkillers
Mar 312017

Prescription painkillers are no longer causing opioid epidemic, according to a top official for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This was revealed at a congressional hearing that heroin and illicit fentanyl were instead the culprits for the rising rate of drug overdoses.

Proven Wrong Based on Research

The fact that prescription opioids were allegedly causing the rising deaths related to overdose for years, proved to be wrong as it was found out that the occurrence was due to synthetic opioid and heroin overdose. Moreover, this was also determined to have been caused by fentanyl manufactured illegally.

Over 33,000 deaths were blamed to opioids in which less than half were related to pain medication. CDC Director Debra Houry also said that based from statistics, more than half of those who overdosed on fentanyl or heroin have received at least a single opioid prescription within 7 years before they have died.

Reports regarding efforts to reduce prescription of opioid that have led to the increased use of prohibited drugs were also disputed by Houry. In fact, it was the office of Houry that supervised the development of CDC guidelines. This was reportedly been controversial, as doctors were discouraged to prescribe opioids for chronic pain.

More on Opioids

Based on research, one of the three main categories of medications that would offer certain liabilities for abuse are prescription opioids. The other two are the central nervous system stimulants and depressants. Likewise, there are some factors, which contribute to the severity of the current abuse problem in prescription drugs. Such would include greater social responsibility to use medications, increases in the prescription count whether dispensed or written, and aggressive marketing of some pharmaceutical companies.

When it comes to mortality and abuse, opioids constitute among the highest proportion of the problems related to prescription drug abuse. In fact, as early as 2002, certain cases about opioid analgesic poisoning related to mortality are more common than cocaine or heroin.

Proper Knowledge About Prescription Drugs

According to experts, there is a great lack of medication-assisted treatments in many of the settings of addiction treatment. This is where negative attitudes and stigma persist among administrators and clinic staff. Thus, it would lead to the failure of treatment and the perception that such drugs are ineffective, which would reinforce negative attitudes towards using them.

It might be very difficult to explain that prescription drugs are effective and safe, but at the same time addictive and harmful when abused. That is why there should be focused research in order to discover some targeted communication strategies to address the problem effectively. The notion to educate is a crucial component of any effort of curbing prescription medication abuse, which should be targeted in every segment of the society that should involve doctors.


Despite the fact that opioid medications are still gateway drugs for many, it was otherwise revealed in a report that not all of them are using prescription painkillers before they succumb to death. Therefore, it was strongly denied by Houry that such a report on reductions of prescribing opioid would increase the use of heroin or other illegal drugs.






 Posted by at 2:32 pm

Fentanyl Is a Powerful Opioid

 Opioid Addiction, Prescription Drug Abuse  Comments Off on Fentanyl Is a Powerful Opioid
Jun 092016

With fentanyl, addiction problems in the US related to opioid-based painkillers have just got more dangerous. This highly potent painkiller prescribed by doctors for treating cancer is now being produced illegally and rolled out on the streets to deliver a super high that often leads to death. While this drug has been around way back the 1960s soothing pain in cancer patients, it can also kill, with the most recent, popular case involving the death of American songwriter, singer, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and actor, Prince. Now, recreational users are learning that this drug causes an effect that is very easy to overdose on.

Natasha Butler, a mother, has shared how fentanyl has ruined her life, when it caused the death of her only son, Jerome. Having never heard of the substance, she was baffled when doctors told her that her son died from an overdose of it, which is revealed to be 50x stronger than heroin and 100x more potent than morphine. She said that Jerome had never been prescribed with the drug, though shared that Jerome was given by an acquaintance what he thought was a Norco pill, which is a less potent painkiller also based on opioid, but actually contained fentanyl.

Jerome was just one of the ten people who died in just a short period of 12 days in March from pills containing such a substance, contributing to a sudden rise of deaths in Sacramento County, California. Now, investigators are still tracing the source, with similar incidents of overdose involving fentanyl occurring across the US.

Pointing out the potency of the drug, San Francisco-based Special Agent John Martin from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said, “Just micrograms can make a difference between life and death. It’s that serious. All you have to do is touch it. It can be absorbed through the skin and the eyes.” He added that this prolific killer is so potent that when law enforcers try to seize it, they have to be in level-A hazmat suits, which are the same kind of gear worn by healthcare workers to avoid being contaminated by the Ebola virus.

Forensic scientist Terry Baisz also shared her concerns about fentanyl being commonplace in her community today, even surprised by the similarity of the drug’s appearance to those being sold by pharmaceutical firms. “They look like what you’re getting from the pharmacy,” she said. “I was shocked the first time I tested this stuff and it came back as fentanyl. We hadn’t seen it before 2015 and now we’re seeing it a lot.” Since the drug has made its way to Orange County, it has been causing the deaths of many people.

Another official who was alarmed by the trend, that she had to get involved, is California State Senator Patricia Bates. Commenting on the lethality of fentanyl, she said, “Two minutes, and you could be in respiratory arrest and be dead. It’s kind of like, get high and die.” She has learned these details as related overdose deaths started rising in areas she is representing, particularly South Orange County. Now, she is trying to pass a bill that places heavier penalties on those selling the drug at high volumes.

Eliza Wheeler, project manager of the Drug Overdose Prevention and Education (DOPE) Project in San Francisco, California is also helping get the word out on the streets about fentanyl. She said that many people do not know about the drug, and her campaign will spread awareness and help people avoid the lethal consequences they get from it.





 Posted by at 2:28 pm

Are Prescription Painkillers Really Tennesseans’ Drug of Choice?

 Prescription Drug Abuse  Comments Off on Are Prescription Painkillers Really Tennesseans’ Drug of Choice?
Nov 282015

A lot of people nowadays have become addicted to a wide range of substances. Some are attached to tobacco and nicotine and smoke several sticks or packs a day, while others are hooked on alcohol and can’t stop drinking. Still others are dependent on marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine as well as various club drugs like ecstasy.

In Tennessee, though, the drug of choice among the residents seems to be prescription painkillers. This type of substance abuse isn’t exactly new since many people over the years have become addicted to pain medicine, but what is alarming is the fact that a large portion of Tennesseans are dependent on it.


Troubling Statistics

This information has been gathered by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services of Tennessee. They tracked the use of prescription painkiller among Tennesseans in 10 years (from 1992 to 2012) and found out that it has increased over time. This is true among all age groups but is even more pronounced in people who are in their 20s and 30s.

The department noted that 59 percent of respondents aged 21 to 24 years old pointed to prescription pain medicine as their most-abused drug. Almost 50 percent of those in their early 30s and 21 percent of those in their early 50s also reported the same thing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there since prescription painkiller addiction can result to disastrous circumstances. According to a recently released report by the state’s Department of Health, 580 people from Northeast Tennessee have died from drug overdose within just five years, from 2009 to 2014. The report also shows that the overdose death rate in this area is well-above the state average and is not showing any signs of slowing.


Prescription Drugs Facts

The question now is this: why do people become addicted to prescription pain medicine? There are actually many reasons, but they usually stem from the fact that these painkillers (like many other types of addictive substance) produce a kind of short-term euphoria. Those who use these drugs begin to crave this pleasant feeling, which causes them to take painkillers in ever-increasing dosage until they become fully addicted.

Many people who are dependent on prescription pain medicine are introduced to it in a seemingly unremarkable way. They may have experienced migraines, incurred an injury, or gone through an operation in the past, which prompted their physician to give them painkillers to keep them away from discomfort. Unfortunately, they become hooked to the euphoria that these drugs give, and they continue taking them even when they no longer need to.


New Laws

This issue has reached the ears of government officials in Tennessee, and they are looking into creating a legislation that will reduce the supply and effectively manage the distribution of prescription painkillers. This way, they won’t be easily obtained by those who have no medical need for it. Lawmakers are also looking for ways to help those who are dependent on the substances and provide them with the opportunity to obtain high-quality treatment.


 Posted by at 9:10 am
Jul 052012

Prescription painkillers have now taken the infamous honor of being the number one cause of accident deaths in the U. S. Traffic deaths have fallen to the number two cause.

The shift actually took place in 2008 when there were 41,000 accidental American deaths due to painkillers and 38,000 deaths due to traffic accidents.

According to IO9.com, “There’s little doubt that deaths by vehicle accidents are on the decline, but it does not compare to the sharp rise of poisonings. During the past three decades, the poisoning rate has tripled from where it was in 1980, while motor vehicle deaths decreased by almost one-half over the same time. And from 1999 to 2008, the poisoning death rate increased 90%, while the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 15% … Because of the epidemic, a number of pharmacies are refusing to stock painkillers on account of a dramatic rise in armed robberies. Addicts, who suffer from awful withdrawal symptoms, are desperate to get their hands on these drugs, causing them to take rash action. Since 2006, there has been an 82% rise in pharmacy robberies – from 385 in 2006 to 701 in 2011 – and over 3,500 pharmacies have been hit.”

Eastern Europe seems to have the solution where opioids are harder to come by, being more restricted by the governments and being in shorter supply. Prescription drug use in general in less in Europe than it is in the U. S. and that goes for addiction, too.

 Posted by at 10:45 am