The opioid epidemic has become the deadliest drug crisis experienced by the United States. Opioids are a class of drug that happens to be extremely addictive, so people who use them have a tough time stopping if they can do that without help. Opioids are found all over the place. For example, there are drugs that were legally prescribed that contain opioids. There are also illegal versions of these drugs that tend to contain a mix of other drugs. Opioids can also be found in certain plants.
It began with the suddenly increased availability of prescription painkillers in the 1980s. Once they ran out of pharmaceuticals, the people who were addicted turned to illegal ways to obtain opioids. This increased the market of illegal opioids, making it easier for some people to begin using the more powerful drugs such as heroin. The policies put in place by government agencies have not helped (and have harmed in some cases) the opioid crisis get better, so the issue has snowballed out of control.
A large issue with the opioid crisis is how people view addiction. In the United States, people tend to view addiction as more of a criminal and moral problem instead of a mental health or medical problem. This causes the availability of treatment to decrease so those who need help cannot get it. This attitude also helps stigmatize people who are addicted. Since people view others who are addicted to a substance negatively, those who are addicted try to hide their problem and refuse help.
The number of deaths from overdose has been increasing for a long time. The fix for overdose is to administer a patient Naloxone, which has been in higher demand with the increase in overdose rates. The price of Naloxone has continued to rise, making it unavailable for some people who need it and adding more deaths to the toll. This is due, in part, by the lax laws governing how drug companies increase the prices of medicine.
Although criminal prosecution and mandatory minimum sentences have not helped at all to decrease the use of opioids, Attorney General Sessions announced that the Justice Department would have an opioid taskforce created. The goal is to use the war on drugs to imprison those who abuse opioids to lead to a decrease in the epidemic. Based on the failures of this strategy in the past, this method is not likely to succeed.
Because it is so prevalent, many people will know a loved one who is suffering at the hands of the opioid epidemic. To help them, always be supportive of their needs and feelings. Be loving and encouraging, rather than accusatory and mean. Addiction is a mental health problem that can be overcome with some work. The family should work toward not ostracizing the loved one.
Finally, finding the loved one a proper treatment facility is essential. A good facility is supportive, encouraging, and helpful. These facilities will work with the loved one to help them overcome addiction and learn how to cope with cravings and other post-addiction issues. A good facility will help ensure that the loved one does not have a relapse after the cessation of treatment.