According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, this type of addiction affects more than 20 million people over the age of 12 in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that about 10% of the American population has abused these drugs and about 1/3 of Americans have been prescribed these painkillers at some time in their life.
Many people might not realize they are abusing opiates until the problem is out of control. Without help, the destruction and pain of opiate addiction continues its vicious cycle.
Teenagers are often prescribed opiates in the form of hydrocodone and oxycodone for pain. Many athletes facing minor surgeries or even dental patients are often given painkillers. Many people become dependent on these drugs thinking their pain will not be alleviated without taking a pill.
Within days the body can become dependent, leaving teenagers seeking drugs after they run out through friends and family members. Some may want to quit, but their bodies will not allow it. As the body becomes more and more dependent, the person needs more of the drug to get the effect they desire.
Teenagers do not have to fit in any social class, race or gender to be any more likely to be addicted to opiates. Some find opioids more socially acceptable since they are prescription drugs instead of “street drugs.” Getting help is the only way to stop opiate addiction no matter how adolescents find their way into it.
Another group highly affected by opiate addiction is pregnant women. Neonatal abstinence syndrome happens to many babies whose mothers take opioids. These babies face withdrawal issues as the drugs leave their system. Many of these babies push through being born drug-dependent, but can die in the hands of those not equipped to properly care for them. Many face accidental suffocation when high parents fall asleep on them. Some die when a parent high on opioids does something without even realizing the child is in danger.
Congress passed the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act to help protect these babies. Hospitals must alert authorities when a mother is addicted to drugs. The authorities are to enlist social workers to help the family ease into their life at home with the child. The problem is that many of these babies fall through the cracks because the mother was taking prescription opiates that weren’t required in that state to be reported to authorities.
Opiate addiction affects millions of Americans. It can take hold before one may even notice they have a problem. Without treatment, the addiction can only get worse and destroy lives. If you or a loved one is affected by an opiate addiction, please contact the CLARE Foundation for help. We have been providing affordable and effective substance abuse treatment for nearly a half century.