How Opioid Addiction Is Becoming a New Epidemic

Last Updated: Feb 24th 2020

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

How Opioid Addiction Is Becoming a New Epidemic

In 2014, more people died from a drug overdose than in any year on record in the United States. Out of these deaths, a majority occurred because of an opioid addiction. From 2000 to 2014, a total of half a million people died from drug-related causes. Part of this is due to easy access to prescription drugs.

Opioid Addiction Changes From Prescription Drugs to Heroin

For years, OxyContin was one of the most popular ways for opioid-addicted individuals to get high. The pills would be crushed and snorted for an increased euphoria. In 2010, manufacturers of OxyContin changed the drug’s formula so that it would be harder to crush and abuse. After the deterrent was added, the number of OxyContin abusers dropped from 35.6% to 12.8%.

Unfortunately, the drug changes didn’t stop opioid addiction. Instead, many individuals switched to other medications like Percocet or illegal street drugs like heroin. While Percocet is safe when used according to the prescription, it can become addictive. By 2016, the CDC and FDA announced that they were going to take steps to prevent opioid abuse. Currently, an estimated 26% of patients using opioids are believed to have an addiction.

Heroin and Opioid Addiction

From 2002 to 2013, heroin use rose among young adults. Out of new heroin users, 75% abused prescription opioids before switching to heroin. This change is caused by the heroin’s lower price and ready availability. In addition, the purity of heroin available in the United States has increased in recent years.

Heroin has remained a problem along the Southwest border. From 2000 to 2009, the Drug Enforcement Agency seized 500 kilograms of heroin a year. By 2013, this number increased to 2,196 kilograms a year. This rise in drug trafficking was matched by an increase in heroin deaths. From 2010 to 2014 heroin deaths tripled. In 2014, there were 10,574 heroin deaths in the country. For synthetic opioids, fatalities increased from 3,105 in 2013 to 5,544 fatalities in 2014.

Getting Help With an Opioid Addiction

Fortunately, there are options available for addicted individuals who need help. Chemical dependency centers offer specialized programs for treating opioid abuse. At these treatment centers, patients can detox from the drug and safely go through the withdrawal process. Once the initial detox is complete, patients enter the rehab part of the program. During this stage, treatment centers use therapy options like art therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help with recovery.

No one deserves to live with an addiction. Over time, an addiction can change every part of your life. If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, professional rehab is the key to treating your addiction. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health today at (866) 319-6126 to get help.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.