Opioid Abuse: Just the Facts
Opioids, a class of drugs that act on the nervous system to treat pain, are derived from the opium poppy plant.
· The earliest reference to opium (poppy) growth and use is in 3,400 B.C.
· Opium was known to ancient Greek and Roman physicians as a powerful pain reliever
· Opium was traded along the Silk Road, an 18th-century series of trade routes that ran from Europe to China
· Britain’s East India Company began smuggling opium into China to fund their desire for Chinese tea. This resulted in a soaring addiction rate among the Chinese and led to the Opium Wars of the mid-1800s
· Subsequent Chinese immigration to work on the railroads and the gold rush brought opium smoking to America
· In 1803, morphine, the principal ingredient in opium, was extracted from opium resin
Heroin, a highly addictive, illegal drug, is derived from morphine.
· Creates feelings of pleasure, relaxation, and contentment
· Slows breathing and stops coughing
· Decreases feelings of pain, even after serious injuries
The effects of opioids depend on how much you take and how you take them. If they are injected, they act faster and more intensely. If swallowed as pills, they take longer to reach the brain and are safer.
· Characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs
· Opioids change the chemistry of the brain, which means over time the dose needs to be increased to achieve the same effect
· When people stop taking the drug, they have physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, such as muscle cramping, diarrhea, and anxiety
· In 2016, 116 people died daily from opioid-related drug overdoses (42,249 total)
· In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was 5 times higher than in 1999
· From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses
· The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans reported
· Improve opioid prescribing
· Expand access to substance abuse treatment for people already struggling with opioid addiction
· Expand access and use of naloxone, a safe antidote to reverse opioid overdose
· Promote the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs, which give healthcare providers information to improve patient safety and prevent abuse
· Implement and strengthen state strategies that help prevent high-risk prescribing and prevent opioid overdose
· Improve detection of the trends of illegal opioid use by working with state and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement
· Talk to your provider about ways to manage your pain that do not involve prescription opioids
· Cognitive behavioral therapy: a psychological, goal-directed approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress
· Exercise therapy, including physical therapy
· Medications for depression or for seizures
· Interventional therapies (injections)
· Exercise and weight loss
· Other therapies such as acupuncture and massage