What We Know About The Opioid Crisis
We have heard a lot about the opioid crisis happening in America. Addiction to legal prescription opioids like Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, and Oxycodone is raving the country. The fact is, we are no longer dealing with a crisis. We are dealing with an opioid epidemic.
A crisis is defined a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger. An epidemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease in a community at a particular time. The problem of opioid addiction and overdose is one of epidemic proportions. We’re long past the point of a crisis.
Here’s what we know:
- According to the Center For Disease Control, on average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
- In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) was five times higher than in 1999.
- From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses. Most of these involved opioids.
- In the more than 60,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, about sixty-six percent involved an opioid drug.
- In 2016, 11.5 million people abused opioids.
- In the past twenty years, the number of opioid overdose deaths has quadrupled.
- The number of prescriptions that doctors have written for opioid medications like Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl quadrupled from 1999 to 2010.
- Overdose deaths from prescription opioids has also quadrupled in less than two decades.
- The U.S. economic cost of the opioid crisis in 2016 was a staggering $504 billion.
- In October 2017, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency.
What People Are Saying About The Opioid Epidemic – And What They’re Not Saying
Addiction experts, policy makers, concerned citizens – even the president of the United States is talking about the opioid epidemic happening across the country. What are they talking about?
They are expressing concern about the number of people who are dying from opioid overdoses. They are having conversations about the packed prisons overloaded with offenders who have been arrested for an opioid related crime. They also blaming doctors for over-dispensing opioids and causing this crisis. What they aren’t talking about is how this crisis will affect future generations.
When it comes to the opioid epidemic, we have a tendency to talk in terms of numbers and statistics without realizing that behind every opioid addict is a human being. Their innocent children are casualties. Let’s talk about how the opioid crisis is affecting our young people.
Drug-Addicted Parents Are Raising Children
Opioids are powerful narcotic painkilling drugs that quickly bring about an addictive cycle. Once someone becomes hooked on opioids – whether they have a prescription from a doctor or they buy them on the street – they simply cannot stop taking them without some kind of intervention. Most people have to undergo Opioid Replacement Therapy to kick opioids.
Many addicts are simply unwilling to do what it takes to overcome their opioid habit. As a result, they remain addicted and continue to go about their life as best they can while managing their addiction. This includes raising their children.
Children who are raised by drug-addicted parents are often the victims of neglect and abuse. They are forced to live in dysfunctional households and don’t receive the love, attention, and guidance they need to become fully-functioning adults.
Many Children Are Being Raised By Relatives Or End Up In Foster Care
Quite often, opioid-addicted parents are completely incapable of taking care of their children and meeting even their basic needs. When this happens, children are forced to live with relatives or they wind up in the foster care system.
According to an article in Stat, “in 2016, about 274,000 children entered the foster care system, 22,000 more than in 2012. One-third of those youngsters were removed from their homes because at least one parent had a drug abuse issue.”
Newborns Are Being Born To Opioid-Addicted Mothers
Opioid addiction does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It also affects pregnant women.
Sadly, many women who are addicted to opioids become pregnant and continue to use their drug of choice throughout the duration of their pregnancy. This causes newborns to be born addicted. According to a report from NBC, “the rate of American children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a set of symptoms experienced by babies exposed to drugs in the womb, has quadrupled over the past 15 years.”
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is extremely dangerous for a newborn. When babies are born addicted, they have to go through the painful process of withdrawal during their first few months on planet Earth. They can also experience seizures or die prematurely.
Children Have To Grieve The Loss Of A Parent At A Young Age
It is difficult for anyone to lose a parent at any stage of life. But, can you imagine how devastating it is for a young child or teenager to lose a parent to opioid addiction? Kids who lose parents to an opioid overdose have to go the rest of their lives scarred with the reality that their mom or dad left them too soon because they had a problem with drugs.
About half of all opioid-related deaths occur among men and women ages 25 to 44. It is safe to assume that many of these people are mothers and fathers with young children. When a parent dies, children are left behind to pick up the broken pieces of their shattered lives. Needless to say, they are ill-equipped to do this.
What All Of This Means For The Future of America
Our young people are the future of America. One day, they will be in leadership positions and they will be running the country. We need to build up a strong generation of young people who are capable and competent individuals if we want to keep America great.
The only way we can secure a bright future for ourselves and the country is to end the opioid epidemic. This happens through treatment of the individual addict. If you have a problem with opioids, contact us and find out how what your treatment options are. The children of America need you.