Opium addiction is a nationwide epidemic. There are approximately 142 Americans losing their battle with opium addiction every day. There are so many people becoming addicted to opium drugs, leading to many people losing their lives. Helping people fight their addition and saving lives is on the minds of lawmakers, doctors, and healthcare providers everywhere. Using drugs can not only lead to accidental death, but it can also lead to suicide.

Opium addiction has many devastating effects. Many people get addicted to prescription opiates, but there are just as many people becoming addicted to illegal opiates, such as heroin. Drugs shipped in from overseas are another problem. There is a loophole that makes it easy for foreign countries, like China, to ship powerful drugs into our country. Since the loophole exists, people and suppliers have been taking advantage of it. This is leading to the astonishing number of people that are dying from using these drugs.

The crisis of opiate addiction has been exacerbated by doctors over-prescribing opiates and the availability of people obtaining the drugs illegally. The use of drugs, like oxycodone, may start benignly because of pain from an injury. However, if not used as prescribed, the user will crave more and more of the drug to get the same feeling and relief. This is where the addiction takes hold. The brain is changed, and its opioid receptors are activated, initiating the continued need for the medication. Without intervention with rehab and potentially other medication, the addiction is very difficult to reverse.

There are drugs that help with the opioid addiction. Without proper detox, terrible things, even suicide, can happen. These drugs include methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone. Each of these drugs can be used to help the person fight the addiction. They replace the opioid drug with something that will help with the detox while not giving the intoxicating effects. However, if these are used correctly, you can open a whole new issue of addiction and potential negative effects.

Opiates not only cause psychological effects, but they can cause physical organ damage as well. In particular, heroin can cause liver damage, leading to liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis can lead to death because the body becomes unable to process toxins out of the body. These toxins damage the brain and lead to hepatic encephalopathy and ultimately death, without intervention.

Without help from various sectors of the community, people cannot usually overcome the addiction by themselves. The following are ways to create an environment without addiction:

  • The first line of defense is the medical community that must responsibly prescribe these highly addictive drugs. They need to try to keep them out of the hands of addicts and sparingly prescribe them, so they do not create addictions in patients.
  • Law enforcement must continue its efforts in fighting illegal sale of both prescription drugs and illegal drugs, like heroin.
  • Government agencies and lawmakers must close loopholes that enable foreign countries from shipping dangerous drugs into our country to people who should not have them.

Opioid addiction is a serious problem in the United States. We must all take it seriously and do our part to help bring it under control. A combination of the medical, legal, and law enforcement communities need to work together to reduce the abundance of these drugs in our society. This is no longer a problem that the American people can sweep under the rug and just hope it gets better. Aggressive action must be taken.

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