Since the turn of the 21st century, opiate and opioid use has skyrocketed across America. To one degree or another, every community in the U.S. has been impacted by this surge in use. The result is something commonly known as the opioid epidemic or the opioid crisis. Still ongoing today, this epidemic has led to hundreds of thousands of opioid-related deaths. That helps explain why opioid and opiate addiction treatment are essential resources nationwide.
Defining the Opioid Epidemic
The epidemic of opioid use in America is not caused by contagious symptoms that travel from person to person. Instead, the term refers to a rapid expansion in the use of certain drugs and medications, including:
- Opiates made directly from plant materials in the opium poppy
- Opioids based on synthetic or semi-synthetic versions of those same materials
Broadly speaking, opiates are not as strong as opioids. However, they have the same basic potential to produce addiction or lead to an overdose.
The opioid crisis has occurred in three waves or stages. The first wave was triggered by a significant increase in the amounts of opioids prescribed by doctors in the 1990s. The second wave, which arose in 2010, centered on increased fatal use of the street opiate heroin.
Synthetic opioids were the source of the epidemic’s third wave, which started in 2013. The most significant of these opioids is fentanyl. This extremely potent drug is available in prescription form. However, illicit forms of fentanyl account for the bulk of all use.
The opioid epidemic in the United States is both urban and rural. In several states, rural fatalities per capita outnumber urban fatalities. Communities of all sizes are affected.
Figures for Opioid Deaths During the Epidemic
You can overdose on an opiate or opioid in more ways than one. Specific causes include:
- Taking too much of a single drug or medication
- Mixing an opiate or opioid with alcohol or certain other substances
- Using a street drug without knowing it contains opiates or opioids
Not everyone who overdoses on opiates or opioids will die. Substantial numbers of people survive. Nevertheless, at least 564,000 Americans died in the century’s first two decades due to overdosing.
The opioid epidemic in the United States is not slowing down. At least 60,000 people died from opioids or opiates in 2021 and 2022. Hundreds of thousands more opioid deaths are expected before the year 2030.
Opioid Epidemic Solutions – Ways Out of the Crisis
Is there a way out of the ongoing crisis? In some respects, the situation remains grim. However, there are some potential opioid epidemic solutions on the horizon. For example, at one time, most health insurance policies didn’t cover substance problems. However, today, such coverage is expected. This change may make it much easier for you to get the help you need.
In addition, the stigma of addiction has started to fade. Many people now view the condition for what it is: a treatable illness. A great deal of work remains to be done. Still, such bright spots point to the possibility of improved outcomes in the future.
Increase Your Opioid Epidemic Awareness With Help from Northpoint Colorado
Looking for ways to increase your opioid epidemic awareness? Northpoint Colorado is your source for accurate information on the opioid epidemic. We’re glad to answer your questions and guide you toward valuable resources.
Do you or someone you know need opioid or opiate treatment? Northpoint specializes in this form of addiction care. With our help, you can stop using addictive drugs or medication. You can also learn effective ways to maintain your substance abstinence. Call us today at 970.579.4569 for more information. You can also contact us through our online message form.