Fighting Opioid Addiction

Opioid abuse and opioid addiction have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. This problem has been fueled in part by a tremendous increase in opioid prescriptions throughout the 2000s.  

As reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2.9 billion prescriptions for opioids were dispensed in the U.S. between 2006 and 2018. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has reported that annual sales of prescription painkillers increased by more than 400% between 1999 and 2009. 

Thankfully, the annual number of opioid prescriptions has declined in recent years, but preventing opioid abuse and avoiding opioid addiction remain significant challenges throughout the nation. 

Opioid Addiction is a Nationwide Problem 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reported the following statistics about the nationwide opioid epidemic. These opioid statistics are from 2018, the most recent year for which complete data is available: 

  • On an average day in 2018, 130 people died due to opioid overdose. 
  • About 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription medication. 
  • More than two million people met the criteria for a diagnosis of opioid use disorder (which is the clinical term for opioid addiction). 
  • More than 10 million people misused an opioid. 

Marin County, California, has not been immune to the nation’s opioid epidemic, but in recent years the area has shown progress in the effort to prevent opioid addiction. An Aug. 21, 2019, press release on the Marin County website reported the following: 

  • From 2014 to 2018, the annual number of opioid prescriptions in Marin County was reduced by 48%. 
  • From 2013 to 2018, the annual number of opioid-related deaths in Marin County fell from 39 to 28. 
  • From July 2018 to August 2019, the rate of individuals entering treatment within one week of a nonfatal opioid overdose in Marin County increased from 9% to 21%.  

Ways to Prevent Opioid Abuse 

The prevalence of opioids in modern society makes it difficult to prevent opioid abuse and avoid opioid addiction.  

Each person’s experience with opioid abuse is unique, but here are three common ways that a person can become trapped in the downward spiral of opioid abuse and addiction: 

  • You begin taking a prescription opioid as directed by a healthcare provider for a legitimate medical purpose. Over time, you increase the amount and frequency of your opioid use until you discover that you cannot stop. 
  • You illicitly acquire opioids to help you self-medicate symptoms of a mental or physical health concern. Your opioid abuse quickly leads to addiction. 
  • You use heroin, morphine, or prescription opioids for recreational purposes. When you try to end your recreational opioid abuse, you experience painful withdrawal symptoms, which push you back into this dangerous behavior. 

You should never use opioids for recreational purposes or as a means of self-medicating. Reducing rates of illicit opioid use is an essential part of the effort to prevent opioid addiction. 

Another step toward preventing opioid addiction is to only use opioids for legitimate medical purposes as directed by the prescribing professional. If you experience any troubling effects, you should report your concerns to your doctor immediately. This does not eliminate all danger of opioid abuse and addiction, but it minimizes your risk. 

Fighting the Opioid Addiction Epidemic 

Education and awareness are two essential tools in the effort to prevent opioid addiction in Marin County, California, and throughout the United States. When you understand the signs and symptoms that may indicate a person is struggling, you will be prepared to take meaningful action. 

The following are common signs and symptoms that may indicate a person has been abusing or has become addicted to opioids: 

  • Trying to borrow or steal medications that were prescribed to someone else 
  • Visiting multiple doctors in an attempt to get several prescriptions for opioids 
  • Significant unintentional weight loss 
  • Extreme fatigue or lethargy 
  • Inability to concentrate or focus 
  • Withdrawing from family and friends 
  • Failing to participate in activities or events that were once important 
  • Frequently missing school or work, or otherwise failing to meet their responsibilities 

Preventing opioid addiction or helping a person achieve recovery is a matter of seeing the warning signs and getting help. With proper care, a person can manage the symptoms of opioid addiction and achieve a drug-free future. 

How to Find Help for Yourself or a Loved One 

Fighting opioid addiction begins with ensuring that each person who needs help gets the professional assistance they need.  

If you or someone you care about has been struggling with opioid addiction, it’s important to find a treatment facility that can assess the full scope of your needs and provide the type and level of care that’s right for you. 

At Duffy’s Napa Valley Rehab, which is located near Marin County, California, adults whose lives have been impacted by opioid abuse and addiction complete thorough assessments and follow individualized treatment plans that put them on the path toward successful long-term recovery.