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The opioid epidemic is getting stronger and stronger by the day in the United States and much of the contributing factors to this problem are caused by prescription opioids.

  • It has been revealed that the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths, both prescription opiates, and heroin, has already quadrupled since the year 1999 as revealed by the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  • Over 165,000 individuals have already died while using prescription opioids.

All these are partially caused by the poor recognition of the risks brought about by painkiller opioids.

Morphine, the substance derived from a poppy plant has been developed for pain management early in the 1800s. It was then seen as an option for the management of severe pain usually prompted by surgery and other medical interventions. However, through the years, the use of opioids may have already expanded to more than just the management of acute pain.

It is wise to note that prescription painkillers are to be taken only under medical supervision. As for patients who use prescription opioids with non-cancer pain, this type of drugs should be used briefly to avoid drug dependence and opioid addiction. Due to the high risk for addictiveness, you should also first obtain a legitimate prescription before using the drugs.

Over the past few decades, prescription opioids have become more and more available.

The wide availability of this type of drugs has also fueled those who hoard opioids. In most cases, prescription opioids are being used way more than the individual needs. For example, one who uses opioids for 1-2 days after a surgery may switch to non-prescription painkillers and leave the remaining pills in a medicine cabinet.

A few of those who hoard opioids do so because they have anticipated the need for them sometime later. They would not wish to ask for one more prescription from a physician. Still, there are those who purposely hoard opioids to share with friends or family. It should be known that the intentional hoarding of opioids with the objective of sharing it with others or else selling it on the streets is illegal. However, many continue to engage in such harmful practices.

The repeated use of opioids can lead to neurobiological changes in our brain.

Dependence means that the system has already developed tolerance needing more of the drug to get the same effects and may also include experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug. The same circumstance can also happen to anyone taking prescription opioids for an extended timeframe.

On the other hand, addiction is the repeated behavior of seeking the drug. It can develop in individuals who make use of the drug to numb emotional or psychological pain. They may resort to the use of drugs despite the negative consequences felt in school, at work or at home.

The use of prescription opioids may, ultimately, lead to an overdose. Opioids affect the central nervous system acting as depressants that can slow down heart rate and breathe even to dangerous levels stopping them completely. This can often results in death if not reversed quickly.

It is vital to dispose off painkillers properly even if the entire prescription is not used or there are excess painkillers at home. You should surrender the drugs to a Drug Enforcement Agency-authorized collector such as a hospital, clinic, retail pharmacy, or police office with drop boxes or mail-back programs.