One of the most commonly talked about issues in Riverside, California, the greater southern California region, and in the country is the ever-increasing opioid epidemic that is affecting millions. Similar to diseases like cancer, opioid addiction has become so popular that almost everyone in the country knows someone who has grappled with opioid addiction or lost a loved one to it. With instances of opioid overdoses and deaths increasingly rising, lawmakers are working tirelessly to change the way in which these potent and powerful medications get into the hands of Americans. For years, restrictions and regulations have been placed on professionals throughout the medical field, as well as on major pharmaceutical companies, to help decrease the prevalence of abuse of these substances. However, while many of these advances have helped cut down on the rates of death by opioid overdose, other individuals are continually struggling to manage their pain in a responsible manner.
Many opioids, including some of the most commonly abused ones like fentanyl and oxycodone, are vital for numerous individuals throughout the United States in helping manage moderate to severe physical pain. According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. However, not all of those individuals also grapple with opioid addiction, making it oftentimes frustrating and challenging to obtain the medication that they need to take in order to manage their chronic pain conditions.
How Did We Get Here?
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing opioid abuse as an epidemic in 2011, we have only seen an increase in those who are abusing these dangerous substances despite efforts to scale it back. There are a handful of different ways in which the abuse of opioids like Vicodin and Percocet have continued to grow over the years. Consider the following:
- One of the most tried and true methods of illegally obtaining and “sneaking” opioid medications is through doctor shopping. For years, those individuals who have wanted to obtain more prescription opioids have gone from doctor to doctor, state to state, complaining of symptoms that would permit a prescription for an opioid-based medication like fentanyl or oxycodone being written. Recently, new technology has been supplied to many prescribing physicians’ offices to help prevent individuals from coming to them to doctor shop, which has made it more challenging for individuals with all intentions to obtain these powerful medications.
- Sadly, despite the many warnings prescribing professionals are provided regarding opioid medications, numerous Americans are either wrongly prescribed or irresponsibly prescribed these medications. This is highly risky, as opioid medications can be incredibly addictive, even to those who do not have an addictive personality.
- Just like most else on the consumer market, prescription opioids can be purchased illegally online from other countries, as well as traded amongst individuals. This is a much more challenging feat to control, as the internet is so vast and difficult to regulate. However, those with access to these medications are able to make a business out of it online, just like those who take to the streets to sling pills.
- Partially synthetic opioids are also to blame for the rise in the opioid epidemic, as some individuals will obtain a prescription opioid and then cut it with other substances to expand their inventory to make more money. This leads to more uncertainty for those who are purchasing these pills, as well as an increased risk of overdose and adverse side effects.
- Similar to addiction and substance abuse itself, those who seek prescription opioids for pain management or other reasons are often met with a stigma that they are doing so only to obtain some of the medications that are so highly sought after, thus preventing those in need who would otherwise consume these medications properly from getting the right treatment.
Where Does This Leave Responsible Pain Patients?
In response to the ever-increasing abuse of opioid medications, lawmakers are working to ensure a stronger, fool-proof set of systems that will get opioids in the correct hands and keep them from the wrong ones. However, as we have seen with drug wars in the past, this is not a simple fix that can be achieved overnight.
Some movement has been made to stop doctor shopping. Law enforcement agents have received stronger training on how to handle the confiscation of opioids, as well as how to help those who have overdosed on them. Doctors have been armed with more information regarding the medications they provide, and have been advised to always provide a warning to all patients upon prescribing them and to follow-up with patients who are taking these medications. More community members are becoming wise to the dealing of opioids within their neighborhoods, working together to help bust drug rings and stop the flow of these medications into their communities. However, while all of this progress is exceptional, it is still not enough to fully eradicate the challenges that those who suffer from chronic pain face on a daily basis.
For many, chronic pain keeps them from carrying out some tasks throughout their day. For others, chronic pain starts from the second their feet hit the floor in the morning and throughout their nights of restless sleep. Medications like fentanyl, Vicodin, oxycodone, and Percocet are considered life-savers for those who are struggling with chronic pain that prevents them from living their lives. While not everyone uses opioids correctly, millions of people do, and with a push back from prescribing professionals, it has become much harder to obtain the needed medication. There are now numerous hoops to jump through, many questions that are asked, handfuls of records pulled, and so on just to ensure that the individual who will be treated for chronic pain will not turn around and abuse and/or sell these medications. Sadly, as a result, these individuals must also add the tiresome nature of trying to get the right medications into their cabinets to an already painful, frustrating life. At this time, this is a reality for those who are trying to do the right thing; however, there is hope that strides will be made to help separate those who truly need these medications from those who are attempting to obtain them for recreational purposes.
At Sunrise Recovery Ranch, we provide addiction treatment to Riverside, California and the greater SoCal region. Our team understands that while many people need these medications in their lives, there are still many more who are abusing them for the incorrect purposes. Here, our team works endlessly to ensure that every individual who walks through our doors is properly assessed and is treated based on his or her own personal needs. If you or a loved one is grappling with opioid addiction, please contact us right now to learn how we can help.