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Opioids are substances that produce morphine-like effects and offer pain relief. While the original intention behind prescribing opioids could be called noble, the reality is that these substances are highly addictive—and our country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic.
Misuse of prescription opioids and heroin impacts more than two million Americans and an estimated 15 million people worldwide each year. Opioids are still prescribed daily in the United States, and their misuse has sparked a massive health crisis.
The most tragic fact about the opioid crisis in the United States is that drug manufacturers were aware of the potential dangers associated with the prescription medications they were producing. Yet these companies failed to provide adequate warnings about the addictiveness of these substances, leading doctors to prescribe opioids with less care than they might have otherwise exercised.
The manufacturers of these drugs need to be held accountable for their reckless actions, which have ignited one of the worst public health crises in recent memory. In 2019, President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national health crisis and allocated funds to addressing the issue. This is definite progress on a small scale, but what about individuals? Remember that you also have rights and the ability to fight back against these prescription drug manufacturers.
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How Did The Opioid Addiction Happen?
Opioid manufacturers knew the risks associated with opioids, especially their high rates of addiction. But, to increase profits, the manufacturers of these drugs misled doctors into thinking that the risk of addiction wasn’t as bad as people once thought.
As a result, doctors began to feel more comfortable prescribing opioids as a form of pain relief to patients who were suffering. Since this first began in the ’90s, death and addiction to opioids have increased dramatically.
Indiana Opioid Epidemic
It’s no secret that there is an opioid epidemic in America, and unfortunately, that epidemic affects Indiana as well. When we look to find the causes of the increased opioid use in our country, it often comes back to the manufacturers and distributors of that drug.
In Indiana, overdose deaths tied to opioids have increased significantly along with the rest of the country (22.5 percent from 2016 to 2017). Since 1999, the number of opioid poisoning deaths is up 500 percent.
According to the CDC, an average of 74.2 out of every 100 persons that visit a doctor received an opioid prescription for chronic pain in 2017. However, that rate is a sharp decline compared to prescriptions that got written for patients before 2017.
Regardless of this progress, opioid prescriptions are still handed out freely in Indiana (levels are comparable to the rest of the country) with little warning from drug manufacturers about potential dangers, including addiction or overdose.
The Indiana opioid epidemic is comparable to many other places in the United States. The problem has created an awful cycle that is hard to reverse, as addiction is a serious disease that threatens the health, social, and economic welfare of the entire state.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the first time many opioid users get their hands on the drug is when they are prescribed it by their doctors as a pain reliever. Opioid addiction not only hurts the user, but everyone around them, and can lead to death, brain damage, heart damage, loss of employment, and addiction to hard drugs like heroin.
It’s time to hold drug manufacturers and doctors that acted irresponsibly and without regard accountable. Contact an attorney at Stewart & Stewart to discuss the details of your case. Drug injuries and other damages related to opioid addiction are serious issues, and you deserve a legal representative who can advocate on your behalf.
Opioid Overdose—The Threat is Real
There are no secrets as to why opioid overdose accounts for most drug overdose deaths. The term opioids is a broad term that can describe prescription medication (i.e., pain relievers), heroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
Often, a victim of opioid addiction begins experimenting with heroin or synthetic opioids after first obtaining the drug legitimately from a doctor. While opioids do successfully treat chronic pain, they are highly addictive. It is very easy for a patient to become dependent on opioids and begin misusing the drug since its effects are so pleasing and euphoric.
However, long-term misuse of opioids leads to dependence that spawns addiction and drug abuse. When the prescription is no longer accessible (or simply not enough), the user may turn to the streets for heroin or synthetic opioids like fentanyl for relief. Opioid withdrawals are brutal, and the drugs sold on the streets are easier to locate and cheaper compared to prescription meds.
It only takes a small dose of opioids laced with fentanyl to trigger an overdose. If quick action is not taken, a drug user’s respiratory system can shut down and lead to certain death. Opioid addiction and overdoses not only cause the victim to suffer, but other friends and family trying to protect and help the addict also experience a great deal of anguish. Thus, the opioid crisis is a significant contributor to health, social, and economic problems for the entire country.
Dealing with the Opioid Crisis
The prevalence of opioid misuse and addiction in the United States is rapidly increasing. In 2015, more than 20,000 deaths were linked to opioid overdoses, with another 13,000 caused by heroin. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death in U.S. adults under the age of 50, with opioid overdoses accounting for more than half of all drug overdoses.
Sadly, between 21 and 29 percent of patients that are prescribed opioids for chronic pain will end up misusing the drug. Of that percentage, approximately 8 to 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. In several cases, this leads to the dependence on and misuse of heroin after prescription opioids are no longer available or affordable for addicts. In fact, 80 percent of people that use heroin first started using drugs by abusing prescription opioids.
Every day, an average of 130 people in the United States lose their life because of a drug overdose connected to opioids. Along with the tragedy of losing a life far too soon, and the fact that drug addiction is a problem that affects more than just the victim, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the country is nearly $80 billion a year.
How Do I Seek Compensation for Opioid Addiction?
Often, the impact of an addiction will trickle down, hurting the children, the families, and the friends of those affected. Dealing with an addiction is not easy, but you do not have to handle it alone. If you or a loved one was prescribed opioids for pain relief and became addicted, overdosed, or suffered an injury directly related to opioid use, contact our attorneys today. Our experienced legal team will pursue justice on your behalf.
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