The Opioid Epidemic and Its Effects on Americans Life Expectancy

The Opioid Epidemic and Its Effects on Americans Life Expectancy

Drug-related deaths caused by opioid overdose are rising faster than ever particularly for Americans under the age of 50. Suffice it to say that while any addiction lowers any life expectancy significantly, continued use and abuse of prescription medication that acts on the nervous system to relieve pain can lead to physical dependency and severe withdrawal symptoms.

OxyContin, Vicodin, Codeine, Methadone, Roxanol, Demarol, Percocet, Ritalin, you name them and probably someone you know has used and abused them knowingly or unknowingly. Opiate addiction is a fast-growing issue, and the addiction can develop in a matter of one to two weeks of regular use but this does not stop the over prescription of opioid painkillers being sold in pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices to unsuspecting Americans who as research would show, 91 people, die every day from prescription opioid and overdoses.

Prescription opioids are used to manage moderate to severe pain associated with surgery or injury such as back pain or osteoarthritis or health conditions such as cancer. Despite serious risks or evidence in their long-term effectiveness in alleviating pain, there has been an unrestrained increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids.

Drug-related overdoses have killed more American people than vehicular accidents or guns. This because the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped and to avoid feeling sick, people will either up the dosage and some reported cases, combining them with drugs such as heroin or even alcohol to get a quicker fix.

Because opioid receptors regulate pain, which makes them powerful painkillers, they are debilitatingly addictive, and in addition to the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, whether taken as prescribed, opioid dependency has a number of physical side effects and withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain tolerance
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped
  • Dry mouth, severe nausea, and vomiting
  • Chills, shivers, itching and profuse sweating
  • Confusion and depression
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Lower sex drive, energy, and strength
  • Hallucinations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Body tremors
  • Feelings of hostility or paranoia
  • Dangerously high body temperatures and irregular heartbeat
  • Suicidal thoughts

Opioids are vital, and when used appropriately they can improve the quality of life, particularly for cancer patients and those with suffering from debilitating pain, but it is a losing battle when weighed against the risks of overdose and addiction. Even though withdrawals aren’t necessarily fatal, there are cases of deaths during the withdrawal phase that occurs either from severe dehydration that leads to electrolyte disturbance or when the throes of withdrawal destabilize the addict’s body, leaving it susceptible to various health complication.

There is a lot being done to raise awareness of the American opiate dilemma because not many know that it is an epidemic on the rise and those people in the bondage of opiate and drug addiction can also seek treatment, specifically detox as well as opiate replacement therapy.

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