Today, opioids of all variations are being used both medically and recreationally. On June 2017, drugabuse.gov published an article stating that each day approximately 90 Americans die from opioid abuse. The epidemic has come to be known as 'The Opioid Crisis', an appropriate term used by U.S. President Donald Trump, who, as of October 2017, claimed that the topic should be labeled a national crisis.
To understand how got to where we are today, we must first peer into the events that took place leading us here. In 1990, pharmaceutical organizations assured the medical community that patients would form no addiction to the new wave of prescription drugs being distributed. As a result, medical professionals began to prescribe the drugs at higher rates. It was then found that the medication being prescribed was highly addictive. As the decade unfolded, we learned the costly and even fatal side effects of opioid-based medication, but research shows it may be too late.
Drugabuse.gov reports that approximately 33,000 American lives were lost to drug abuse in 2015, and an additional 2 million Americans suffered from substance-use disorders. It has been found that roughly 21% to 29% of patients prescribed opioid pain medications misuse them, and 8% to 12% of patients may develop substance-use disorders altogether. In addition up to 6% of people transition from opioids to heroin, and 80% of people who have used heroin began by abusing opioids.
These statistics can be startling, especially due to the amount of prescription drugs distributed to American patients each day, one of the most common being methadone. Methadone is used to ween drug abusers off of their primary addiction. The drug proves to have impressive results; however, it is not a means of curing an abuser's addictions entirely. In fact, methadone is a replacement opioid that takes less of a toll on one's body. In addition, it is meant to be used during a rehabilitation period, ensuring that relapses do not occur.
Though the drug has many attributes and has many successes, there are just as many side-effects and symptoms of methadone use. Almost every patient prescribed the drug experiences an eventual withdrawal, consisting of several different symptoms. Though these withdrawals are not the same as one would experience after using heroin or morphine, they have the ability to be just as intense nonetheless, and can last from just a few weeks, to several months. Some patients even report feeling anxiety or depression, and in rare cases during use, their heart rate slowing down to dangerous levels.
As a rebuttal to the hysteria that opioids have caused during the last few years, President Trump has recently claimed to make opioid abuse and prevention one of his main objectives. In an attempt to regulate the epidemic, Trump claims he will be launching "really tough, really big, really great advertising" aimed at persuading Americans to not begin using opioids in the first place. In addition, the President claims that he will be unrestricting healthcare for addicts through Medicaid.