Opioids are compounds that act on receptors present on the nerve cells in the brain and body and have an analgesic and narcotic effects. These medications have been commonly used over hundreds of years as means of providing relief from pain and distress.
Nowadays opioids are used for many other different indications.These drugs although very useful when consumed in a proper way as prescribed by the physician, have an incredible ability to establish dependence and addiction. Perhaps these compounds are one of the most common drugs of abuse. Due to their addicting ability, these drugs are commonly overdosed either accidentally or intentionally.
Drug overdose refers to administration of a specific drug in amounts great than they were originally prescribed or recommended.An overdose of an opioid compound can be highly fatal if not managed promptly and intelligently.The signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose can be as follows:• Irregular breathing pattern than can even progress to complete respiratory suppression• Miosis (Pinpoint pupils)• Unconsciousness, confusion, and delirium• Nausea and vomiting• Cold and clammy body parts• Bluish discoloration of nails and lipsAccording to a study conducted in the United States of America, greater than 90 citizens of America die due to an opioid overdose every day.
The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates a cost of $78.5 billion per year as the total economic burden due to opioid misuse solely including healthcare cost, criminal involvement, loss of productivity and treatment of addiction.This started to happen in the late 1990’s when the pharmaceutical industry comforted the medical community that people will not get addicted to prescribed opioid pain relievers thus the practitioners started to prescribe them more than they used to before.
This caused a widespread misuse and addiction of these drugs. When the fact was realized that these drugs can still be extensively addictive, it was too late and addiction rates were on the rise already.As per another study done in the United States, more than 33000 Americans died from an opioid overdose, approximately 2 million people in the U.S suffered from drug use problems related to prescribed opioid painkillers and 59000 people suffered from heroin-related disorders.Below mentioned are some facts about opioid crises:• Around 21-29% patients to whom an opioid was prescribed misuse them.
• Between 8-12% patients develop an opioid use disorder.• Approximately 4-6% of patients who misuse prescribed opioids start using heroin also.• An estimated 80% of the population who use heroin were the ones who misused prescribed an opioid medication first.This grave issue has certainly become a public health crisis imparting ravaging consequences all around the world including the U.S. These consequences also include Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome; a group of problems that occur in the newborns due to opioid misuse by the mothers during their pregnancy.
This has also led to an increment in the rates of fatal infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis etc. plus countless other serious problems related to health and wealth.Overcoming a drug overuse can be a very challenging task but definitely a dire need in this era to avoid devastating consequences that occur as a result of a drug abuse in present and in the future. For this purpose, a multidisciplinary approach should be considered. Some measures that can prove to be helpful for this cause are:• Use of new and innovative drugs and technologies to combat opioid use disorders• Safe, non-addictive and potent strategies to manage acute and chronic pain should be introduced• Emotional support from friends, family, support groups etc.• Encouraging the role of exercise in the complete process• Sticking to healthy foods, behaviors, and activities.