Data shows that in the year of 2018, an average of 128 US citizens dies daily of an opioid-related overdose. The abuse of opioids has become a serious national health crisis, and thousands of men and women lose their lives to preventable overdose on an annual basis. The most commonly abused opioids include heroin, prescription painkillers, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The burden of the nationwide opioid crisis does not just affect individuals and their loved ones. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the economic burden of opioid abuse and dependency costs the nation roughly $78.5 billion annually.
How did the nationwide opioid epidemic get so severe? In the mid-1990s, prescription painkillers were introduced to the pharmaceutical market, and they began to be prescribed in significant amounts. It was soon discovered, unfortunately, that those who were taking these prescription opioid narcotics were becoming physically and psychologically dependent, based on their hidden, habit-forming nature. Prescription painkillers are still responsible for a significant amount of opioid-related overdose deaths every year, though many individuals who initially became dependent on prescription painkillers eventually transition to heroin.
Nowadays, a good proportion of heroin-related deaths are attributed to fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid. Many drug dealers will cut heroin with fentanyl to increase the potency, and therefore the street value. There are many dangers involved in opioid overdoses of every kind.
Why Are Opiate Overdoses Dangerous?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that from 2017 to 2018, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths increased by 4%, and has continued to rise on an annual basis since then. Drug overdose is one of the leading causes of injury-related death in the US, with over 67,000 total drug overdose fatalities in 2018 alone. Out of those deaths, over 70% involved a prescription painkiller or illicit opioid. There are many dangers involved in opioid overdose – the most serious being death.
What is an opioid overdose? When an individual ingests more chemical substances than his or her body can handle, he or she may experience the shutting down of vital bodily functions as a direct result. Opioid narcotics directly affect the part of the brain that controls essential functions like breathing. Overdose leads to respiratory depression, meaning that the individual who is experiencing the overdose will simply stop breathing. A lack of oxygen to the brain will eventually lead to unconsciousness, and then to death. Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:
- Breathing slows down
- The heartbeat slows and potentially stops
- The face will become pallid and pale
- The skin feels cold and clammy
- Extremities turn blue or purple – fingers and fingernails, specifically
- Extreme nausea and vomiting
- The body becomes limp and the individual nods off and cannot be woken up
- The person becomes completely incoherent and unable to speak
There are many dangers involved in opioid overdose; many more than death. If an individual overdoses he or she can sustain permanent brain damage.
Garden State Treatment Center and Opioid Addiction
At Garden State Treatment Center, we understand the severity of opioid addiction and the importance of opioid addiction recovery. Our main priority is helping individuals who are struggling with a dependency to prescription painkillers, heroin, or synthetic opioids like fentanyl overcome their addictions and go on to lead healthy and productive lives. Opioid overdose kills thousands of men and women on an annual basis, but it does not have to take your life or the life of your loved one – there is a way out. For those struggling with opioid addiction, a professional intervention will be a necessity. To learn more about our comprehensive program of opioid addiction recovery, give us a call today.