Opioid Addiction: A Growing Problem in Orange County, CA

opioid addiction

Opioids are prescription drugs that relieve chronic pain and are often prescribed to alleviate discomfort after surgery. It’s safe to take these drugs when a qualified doctor advises you to use them to improve your health. But if you ignore your prescription and over-consume drugs for extended periods, nothing can save you from getting addicted to these potentially harmful substances.

Orange County, California State offers an affluent lifestyle and the cost of living is much higher than many other cities in the US. However, it’s a lesser known fact that opioid dependence is increasing in the county, particularly among the younger generation.

Opioid Addiction

opioid use in Orange CountyOpioids, also referred to as narcotics, are strong drugs that relieve pain after a serious injury. Your doctor may also prescribe the drugs if you experience excruciating pain due to a life-threatening disease, such as cancer or AIDS.
Here are some of the most common types of opioid medications:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Acetaminophen
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl

Taking a dose higher than the prescription or using this drug even when you don’t need it to control pain develops tolerance. You may become dependent on the medicine and get agitated or anxious when you can’t take the pills. Furthermore, if you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop its consumption, it’s a clear sign that you’re already addicted.

Drug overdose has now become the leading cause of death in the US and most of the casualties by drug overdose are due to opioid dependence. In Orange County, California, the visits to emergency departments in hospitals have increased by 145% since 2005.

Between 2011 and 2015, more than 7,457 patients were admitted to hospitals due to an opioid overdose. The overdose cases are attributed to heroin as well as prescription drugs. A majority of these patients were 24 years old or younger when they were admitted to hospitals.

Opioid Addiction Withdrawal

With a rise in opioid addiction over the past decades, it’s extremely important to raise awareness. If you understand its signs and symptoms, you can take action if you notice any of your friends or family members are having these symptoms.

Here are a few signs of opioid addiction:

  • Increased tolerance against opioids
  • Withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop opioid intake
  • You lose interest in your favorite activities
  • Unsuccessful attempts of cutting down drug consumption

Taking a high dose of opioid than the prescription is referred to as opioid abuse. It significantly increases the risk of dependence and you may get addicted to these drugs over time.

Staying away from drugs isn’t easy once you’re addicted. But only through your will and determination can you return to your routine life.

The withdrawal symptoms of opioid are quite painful, which is why many opioid addicts can’t find it in them to stop drug abuse. Here are some of its withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritation and anger
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive hold and cold sweats
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Yawns
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeats

Opioid addicts usually experience withdrawal symptoms for the initial 72 hours after they stop consumption, and they may go away on their own. But the duration of withdrawal varies from person to person, and detox is always recommended.

If you were on a high dose of the opioid drug for long, the withdrawal symptoms may be more intense and prevail for up to a week. Therefore, it’s recommended to visit a rehab center where you can easily recover from addiction without risking your life.

Causes of Opioid Epidemic

With the rapidly increasing cases of opioid overdose, the government took actions against opioid prescriptions during the past decade. Consequently, the rate of opioid prescription by doctors dropped 18%. However, despite taking this crucial step, the government failed to control overdose deaths.

The government also investigated into the role of pharmaceutical firms in the opioid epidemic to determine whether or not the extensive marketing of opioid-based painkillers increases addiction.

OxyContin is an opioid analgesic drug that controls how your body responds to pain. It can control moderate to severe body aches. During investigations against the manufacturer of this drug, Purdue Pharma, the government learned that the company claimed that this medicine is less addictive and is safe for patients as compared to many other opioid drugs.

Moreover, the pharmaceutical company also offered huge sales incentives to their sales representatives, encouraging them to visit more and more physicians who treated chronic pain and offer them attractive packages in return for prescribing this medicine.

The company faced several private lawsuits due to spreading misinformation and paid millions of dollars in fines. Moreover, they were also restricted from advertising opioid drugs.

However, it’s a positive thing that the government has taken notice of this alarming situation. A health program, Orange County’s Healthier Together, is a step in this direction that aims to control the addiction problem and encourage people to live a healthy life.

By 2020, this program aims to reduce the rate of emergency department visits due to an opioid overdose by 5%. For this purpose, the government will raise awareness about the negative impacts of drugs on society and guide people on how they can live a drug-free life.

Moreover, the government is collaborating with addiction treatment rehabs to provide better treatment facilities to opioid addicts. They are encouraged to adopt result-oriented approaches such as evidence-based treatment methods.

Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers services to people addicted to opioids. If you or a loved one feels as though they may have become addicted to opioids, call us today. Our full range of services will guide you back toward a healthy, sober lifestyle and encourage you to remember that recovery is always possible.