Questions and Answers on the Opioid Crisis in America.

March 27, 2018 – San Diego, CA.  America is the middle of an opioid epidemic, with many factors being looked at by both the medical community and the federal government.  It’s been widely reported that more than 64,000 people overdosed in 2016.  The numbers continue to grow with 17% more deaths from May 2016 to May 2017.  Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by this crisis, people from all walks of life, across all of America.

Today we’ll offer some of the most common questions, with answers, people are asking about this national opioid epidemic.

Who is affected by the opioid epidemic?

It’s estimated that half of the opioid related deaths are occurring in mostly white men and women between the ages of 25 to 44 years old.  Some studies by the CDC narrow the age range to 25-34 year olds, with a rising death rate of 19% currently.  Many thought the age group would be the Boomers; however the data clearly shows the Millennials are widely affected.  However, today the number of children affected by this epidemic is growing steadily.

What states have the highest opioid overdose related deaths?

We looked at the 2016 year data provided by the CDC and Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.   From the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017 the highest rates of death was in the northeast.states opioid overdose related deaths

We’ll look at the Top 10. For the complete list please visit: https://www.kff.org.

  • West Virginia now ranks as the state with the highest death rates from opioid use, 43.4 per 100,000 people (Age-adjusted).
  • New Hampshire is second at 35.8 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Ohio had 32.9 deaths that were opioid related.
  • District of Columbia – 30.0
  • Maryland – 29.7
  • Massachusetts – 29.7
  • Rhode Island – 26.7
  • Maine – 25.2
  • Connecticut – 24.5
  • Kentucky – 23.6

What states have the lowest opioid overdose related deaths?

  • Nebraska – 2.4
  • Montana – 4.2
  • California – 4.9
  • Texas – 4.9
  • South Dakota – 5.0
  • Kansas – 5.1
  • Hawaii – 5.2
  • Iowa – 6.2
  • Mississippi – 6.2

What are prescription opioids?

Prescription opioids are very strong pain-reducing medications; other uses include suppression of diarrhea and cough suppression in chronic cases.  The most common and widely prescribed opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, codeine, morphine, methadone and fentanyl.

When did the opioid crisis begin?

Currently this is one of the hot topics on this subject, and many feel it was the result of pharmaceutical companies in the late 1990s reassuring the medical community that their patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.

This statement alone paints a very sad picture for the pharmaceutical industry.  

It’s been noted that this industry has had a track record of spending millions of dollars marketing to doctors. In fact one report has clearly shown that many pharmaceutical companies knowingly spent more money on marketing than actual research and development of drug. See this story for details – https://www.nationalinjuryhelp.com/dangerous-drugs/doctors-big-pharma-money/  

What is being done about the Opioid Crisis?

This epidemic is now being dealt with on numerous fronts. It’s currently a political taking point for the current Administration, with President Trump making harsh statements that include “death to drug dealers”; it’s the same wording the President of the Philippians used.

These are just political ramblings, but what is really being done to curb this epidemic?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is focusing on five major priorities. They include:

  • improving access to treatment and recovery services
  • promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs
  • strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  • providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  • advancing better practices for pain management

Statement from the website drugabuse.gov/

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of HHS, is the nation’s leading medical research agency helping solve the opioid crisis via discovering new and better ways to prevent opioid misuse, treat opioid use disorders, and manage pain. To accelerate progress, NIH is exploring formal partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and academic research centers to develop:

  • safe, effective, non-addictive strategies to manage chronic pain
  • new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid use disorders
  • improved overdose prevention and reversal interventions to save lives and support recovery

In a plenary address during the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in April 2017, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins describes the NIH opioid research initiative headed up by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). In a May 2017 New England Journal of Medicine special report, NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and Dr. Collins outline how science can provide solutions to the opioid crisis and as they offer a 3 pronged strategy for research partnerships.

Why do people take opioids?

  • Pain relief from an accident, whether it’s a car accident or work related accident.
  • People seeking post surgery pain relief
  • Some may have taken opioids due to peer pressure
  • Chronic pain due to cancer or other illness
  • Some may have been given pills from a friend to try.
  • Some may take opioids pills to get simply high and numb emotional pain and trauma

How do I know if a friend has an opioid abuse problem?

Opioid are highly addictive drugs by design and just about anyone can become addicted to pain pill opioids. When a person’s drug use starts interfering with their ability to maintain a normal life at home, school or work, or in their relationships, it’s a red flag they might need help.

Other red flags can include if a person is taking prescription drugs for longer than their doctor intended or in larger amounts.

What are opioid addiction treatment options?

There are many helpful options for opioid addiction treatment.  Some treatment plans involve multiple strategies, others don’t.  Many times treatments may start with a detoxification period where withdrawal symptoms are managed in an inpatient facility or an outpatient program.

During s detox period, patients could be offered medications to help with symptoms.  This is called MAT, (Medication-assisted treatment) and it is now a fairly common method used to treat opioid addicts.

Medications commonly used may include buprenorphine and methadone.  Some research illustrates that MAT can lower the overall mortality rate by half or more.  Counseling and behavioral therapy are also used in a multi-prong approach.  Some people may want to join in support groups like Narcotics Anonymous that features a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.  Some of these programs will allow MAT, and others do not.

How common is relapse for opioid addiction?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction relapse rates are between 40% and 60%.  Other studies have put the rate as higher for opioid addiction.

If I am prescribed opioids, what should I do?

If you are ever prescribed opioid pain pills, please make sure your doctor is following the recommended drug guidelines and best practices.  Do not take opioids for longer than your doctor recommends.

How do opioids affect the brain?

When opioids are consumed orally the substance compound attaches to proteins found in the brain, in areas called opioid receptors.  They affect areas of the brain that promote feelings of relaxation and euphoria.

Opioids change the perception of pain in the brain, allowing the human body to feel relieved of chronic discomfort and in many cases, reach a feeling like floating.  Depending on the amount taken, opioids can cause major drowsiness, constipation, difficulty in breathing properly or sadly in many cases, death.

What happens when a person stops taking opioids?

It’s well known on the streets that a main compelling factor of wanting to stay high is the side effect they call being “dope sick”.  This is the person coming down from being high on opioids, and many say they would rather die than be dope-sick.  Other non-life threatening problems or side effects may include: opioid addiction

  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Bone, joint and muscle pain
  • Cold sweats
  • Involuntary leg twitching or shaking

Who can file an opioid painkiller lawsuit?

Anyone in America, who has been addicted to prescription opioid painkillers and has suffered an overdose or has had a loved one die from painkillers, has legal rights to a file an opioid lawsuit claim against those responsible.

The opioid lawyers and attorneys at Hood National Law Group are now investigating opioid class action lawsuit claims. There could be substantial cash claims from settlements in these lawsuits.  Please call us at 1-800-214-1010 or use the contact form at the bottom of this page.

Can I file an opioid lawsuit for addiction?

Yes! Anyone who has had an opioid painkiller prescription and has suffered an overdose or worse can submit a lawsuit claim.  Even though we are in the investigation phase, we feel that enough is enough and we intend to hold those companies and distributors responsible for the pain and continued suffering of our American citizens.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at: 1-800-662-HELP.  Or visit the National treatment Website: findtreatment.samhsa.gov

 

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html

https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2017/05/all-scientific-hands-deck-to-end-opioid-crisis

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/opioid-overdose-death-rates/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Opioid%20Overdose%20Death%20Rate%20(Age-Adjusted)%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

https://www.samhsa.gov/