Is the Current Opioid Epidemic New Though?

Opioid Epidemic

Is the Current Opioid Epidemic New Though?

It’s hard to turn on the news now-a-days without hearing shocking stories or statistics concerning the Opioid Epidemic. Opioid abuse has had a huge affect in our country. Some may think Opioid abuse is a new thing, but that’s not the case. Opioids aren’t new. If you have a headache, you take an aspirin, right? Sprained your ankle badly? The doctor will probably recommend ice and ibuprofen. Running a fever? Tylenol or Advil please. Having surgery? Well then, you’ll need some strong painkillers for your post-surgery pain. The issue isn’t as much with the Opioid itself. It’s how doctors began prescribing the more powerful opiates to help their patients with chronic pain.

Humans have used Opioids for Hundreds of Years

Opioids have been around for hundreds of years. Strangely enough, this is not the first U.S. crisis involving heavy drugs. During the Revolutionary war, an estimated 400,000 soldiers treated their pain with morphine. It is believed that this was the biggest cause for the rise in Opioid addiction during the early 1800’s. Similarly, over the past 20-30 years, the opioid epidemic has come roaring back to the US. Opioids have destroyed lives and communities across the country.

While it is easy to point fingers, and there is plenty of blame to go around. It is important to know that the Opioid epidemic did not begin solely because drug companies got greedy. It wasn’t because doctors turned into reckless pill prescribers overnight. Just like during the Revolutionary War, it began with empathetic doctors who were just trying to stop suffering. Especially in the cases of people dealing with chronic, and sometimes terminal, pain. However, what started off with good intentions quickly turned into a wild fire of abuse and over prescribing by physicians.

Opioid Use Old + New

Back in the day, the more popular opiates like heroin and morphine had stigmas attached to them. People were scared to inject themselves with needles and/or share intravenous drugs with other people for fear of diseases or aesthetic blemishes. During the past 30 years or so though, that’s changed. Some of the most powerful opiates are now produced in pill form. This has led to a decreased stigma behind their overall use. Drugs like Fentanyl and Oxycodone have replaced heroin and morphine as the drugs of choice among the users that can afford it. Fentanyl is the drug responsible for the death of artist “formerly known as Prince”. Those who can’t afford it, or whose insurance doesn’t cover their pain prescriptions, are prone to shooting heroin or morphine to get their fix.

 

Is it really an Opioid Crisis?

The New York Times recently reported that the number of drug overdose deaths exceeded 59,000 in 2016. The rise in the death toll from 2015 is the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States (19%).  This is just one of the major effects of an rising Opioid epidemic that is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50. If Congress and Senate leadership don’t do something soon, these numbers will continue to rise. The opiate crisis could become a plague.

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Are Teens Replacing Drugs with Technology

Are Teens Replacing Drugs

Are Teens Replacing Drugs with Technology? Despite being in the midst of an opioid epidemic, the increase in popularity of deadly synthetic drugs and the almost nationwide legalization of marijuana, something interesting has begun to take place over the course of the past ten years. Teenagers across the U.S. are becoming less and less likely to try and regularly use drugs and alcohol. Researchers have noticed this trend building for about a decade now, but have no clear answer as to why. Most attribute the decline in cigarette smoking as the primary reason. Citing that since cigarette smoking is a gateway to other drugs, and less kids are smoking cigarettes, less kids are entering the gateway to using alcohol and illegal drugs. Others believe that years of antidrug youth education campaigns have finally begun to work. However, there are some who have an entirely different theory. Are Teens Replacing Drugs with Technology?

Are teens replacing drugs with video games and smart phones?

Could it be that teens are spending so much time plugged into their smartphones, either texting, playing games, or on social media, that there’s no time left for drugs or alcohol? It’s not as farfetched of an idea as you might initially think given that the use of smartphones and tablets have exploded during the same period that teen drug use has declined. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one behavior is the specific cause of the other, but scientists say that interactive media appears to have replaced drug experimentation by providing similar impulses, including sensation-seeking and the desire for independence. It could just be that our interactive gadgets take up a lot of the time that could be used for other activities, including partying and doing drugs or alcohol. Researchers have found that the use of marijuana among 8th and 10th graders is down over the past decade despite its social acceptability being up, and though marijuana use has risen among 12th graders, the use of cocaine, hallucinogens, and ecstasy are all down

On the surface, this sounds like good news. However, some social media critics believe that drug and alcohol use haven’t declined because kids today are behaving better, or are more cautious than they used to be, but because they’re simply spending less time hanging out with their peers, developing their social skills and learning about each other. Instead, teens today are spending more time alone staring at their phones than ever before and are growing more and more socially-isolated. Is social media is serving teens with a dose of interactive methadone? Social media is too new for us really have a grasp on its long-term effects, but several studies over the past few years have shown that it’s abuse has already been linked to depression and insomnia

Have we now reached a point where teenagers have replaced alcohol and illegal drugs with Snapchat and Instagram?