Opioid Safety

May 27, 2021

If you have been prescribed an opioid pain medication, we want to make sure you are aware of the potential risks involved. As you may know, opioid addiction rates and overdoses have been on the rise in recent years. According to the “Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures” compiled by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM):

  • Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin.
  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015. 
  • From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate; sales of prescription pain relievers in 2010 were four times those in 1999; and the substance use disorder treatment admission rate in 2009 was six times the 1999 rate. 
  • In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which is more than enough to give every American adult their own bottle of pills.
  • Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.
  • 94% of respondents in a 2014 survey of people in treatment for opioid addiction said they chose to use heroin because prescription opioids were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”

Knowing these statistics, it is important to be vigilant when you, or a loved one, begins taking opioid pain medications. Listed below are common 
warning signs of opioid addiction:

  • Noticeable elation/euphoria and/or marked sedation/drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • “Doctor shopping” (getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors)
  • Shifting or dramatically changing moods
  • Extra pill bottles turning up in the trash
  • Social withdrawal/isolation
  • Sudden financial problems
  • Withdrawal symptoms (flu-like, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia)

Opioid pain medications can be very helpful in temporarily easing the pain of a physical injury; however, long-term use often increases sensitivity to pain. Beyond that, the statistics show that addiction is a very real possibility. If you are concerned about your use of opiates or that of a loved one please call Prairie View at 800-992-6292 to discuss your options for getting help.