“Bringing governors together around core strategies to end the opioid epidemic adds momentum behind state efforts and sends a clear signal to opioid prescribers and others whose leadership is critical to saving lives.”
~Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, at the July 2016 Compact of Governors
Over the past few years, every region of the country has seen a steep rise in the number of people dependent upon prescription opioid painkillers – from Detroit to Dallas to Denver. Drug rehab programs are full of people who are addicted to pain medications such as Percocet or OxyContin, or even worse, who have switched to cheaper, easier-to-obtain heroin.
Between 1999 and 2014, over 165,000 U.S. citizens died from fatal overdoses involving opioid painkillers. In 2013, nearly two MILLION people in America were dependent upon/abused prescription opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called this trend an “epidemic”, saying, “Past misuse of prescription opioids is the strongest risk factor for heroin initiation and used – especially among people who became dependent upon or abused prescription opioids in the past year.”
A List of Opioids That Are Most-Commonly Abused
There are a number of opioid pain medications available in the U.S. that each carry a risk of misuse, dependence, diversion, addiction, and overdose. Here is a list of the most common, along with how they compare in potency to morphine.
- Hydrocodone (1.0, equal strength to morphine)– 99% of the world’s supply is consumed in America. Brand-names include:
- Oxycodone (1.0) – First used clinically 100 years ago. Brand-names include:
- Codeine (.01) – Codeine is the most-taken opiate in the world. Brand names include:
- Robitussin AC
- Tylenol 3 with Codeine
- Maxiphen CD
- Zodryl AC
- Fentanyl (100) – Increasingly being mixed in with heroin to improve potency. Brand names include:
- Hydromorphone (5.0) – In small quantities, can be produced naturally by the opium poppy. Brand names include:
- Dilaudid HP
- Levorphanol (5.0) – Also can produce delirium and hallucinations. Brand names include:
- Methadone (1.0) –Typically used in replacement maintenance therapy for heroin addicts. Brand names include:
What Are Some Alternatives to Prescription Opioid Painkillers?
In early 2016, the Food and Drug Administration released new federal guidelines that opioid medication should only be prescribed as a “last resort” for pain management, and then, only at the lowest dose and for the shortest duration possible. First-line efforts are always to be other options, including:
- Physical Therapy
- Weight Loss
- Dietary Changes
- Music Therapy
- Nutritional Supplements
- Chiropractic Manipulation
- Heat and Ice
- Over-the-Counter Medications
- Some antidepressants and anticonvulsants
This echoes similar recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country’s top federal health agency. The CDC recommends that opioids should only be prescribed when the risks are outweighed by benefits to “pain and function”.
Dr. Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, the CDC’s Director, says, “We know of no other medications routinely used for a nonfatal condition that kills patients so frequently. We hope to see fewer deaths from opiates. That’s the bottom line. These are really dangerous medications that carry the risk of addiction and death.”
If you or someone you care about is struggling with an opioid addiction, AspenRidge Recovery—the #1 drug rehab in Colorado—can help you overcome your problem so you can regain balance in your life. There are ways that you can learn to address your recurring pain safely, and without the added risk of a deadly addiction.
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