For decades, drug abuse has been a major concern in the United States. In the 1960s, the primary focus was on individuals who were abusing marijuana and hallucinogens. In the 1970s, cocaine flooded the country. Throughout the 1980s, cocaine abuse remained rampant, and by the time the 1990s rolled around, drugs such as ecstasy and crystal meth were hitting the scene. Today, however, while all of these substances are still being abused by Americans, the nation’s substance abuse problem has been dominated by opioids, including drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared an opioid epidemic throughout the United States. An epidemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease within a community at a particular time. As rates of abuse of opioids like Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, and heroin continue to rise, it is imperative to be both proactive in prevention and active in helping decrease addictions that have already developed. In many ways, doing so is dependent on a nationwide effort to address this problem once and for all.
There are a number of ways to go about handling this growing, continuous epidemic so that appropriate awareness is raised and lives are saved. For example, with the ever-present abuse of opioids occurring throughout the country, making the life-saving drug naloxone available to first responders, families, and those who are addicted to narcotics can be an excellent first step. Naloxone is a medication capable of reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.
Studies have shown that when the media works together to send a message, it is often effective. Therefore, getting social media, TV, radio, and other forms of media to provide education regarding the prevention and treatment of drug abuse can help save lives and decrease negative stigma in regards to getting treatment.
From a clinical standpoint, medical guidelines for chronic pain treatment can be put in place so that prescribing professionals are able to be more careful in their prescribing of these addictive substances. Additionally, these same professionals must be held to a standard of screening for drug and alcohol abuse on a regular basis to protect the wellbeing of their patients.
Breaking down the doors to drug abuse and making treatment programs more accessible and affordable can also be hugely significant in helping those who are addicted. Studies show that 80%-90% of individuals who are addicted to drugs are not receiving the treatment they need. Also, ensuring that medical professionals, patients, and families are aware of the difference between quality treatment and unacceptable treatment options is critical.
There are so many steps to be taken in order to properly address the drug problem that the United States is facing. And, while that can be overwhelming, it is also imperative to hang on to hope. A major aspect of helping an individual recover from an addiction to opioids is to be hopeful that he or she can overcome his or her challenges, go on to live a happy life, and maintain a sober future. Hope can be critical, especially when times become tough and seemingly dark. Having something to hang on to can save lives just as easily as any other method.
Are You Addicted to Opioids?
If you are addicted to opioids, know that you are not alone. You and millions of other people throughout the country are facing challenges that might feel insurmountable. However, professional treatment can help you make the strides needed to finally make your opioid addiction a thing of the past. If you are struggling, please know that effective help is available. You can overcome your addiction and once again live a healthy drug-free life.