Prescription opioids are highly potent drugs used to treat chronic pain. According to the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, the number of prescriptions for opioids written in South Carolina every year is approximately equal to the entire population of the state. The addictiveness of prescription opioids makes their wide availability concerning.
Also concerning is a report by ABC 4 News that year-to-date data on opioid overdoses show an increase from 2019 to 2020. Compared to last year, the rate of overdose has increased by 50%.
What are some commonly prescribed opioid medications?
Morphine, hydrocodone, OxyContin, Dilaudid and fentanyl are all examples of opioid medications prescribed frequently for relief of chronic pain. The drugs are extremely potent, so much so that dependency can develop within 72 hours, or three days.
What is the connection between opioid dependency and heroin use?
Heroin is a dangerous narcotic drug with no accepted medical use. A majority of people who eventually start using heroin, 80%, first become addicted to prescription painkillers. They turn to heroin when they are no longer able to obtain opioid medications.
What can people do about the problem?
An opioid overdose can prove fatal. Narcan is the brand name for naloxone, a medication that reverses the acute effects of opioids. Naloxone is available in South Carolina with no prescription and often at no cost for use in an emergency situation involving a possible overdose.
People who have leftover portions of a prescription opioid should dispose of them properly. Disposal sites are available all year, with more locations added during National Prescription Take Back Day, which occurs approximately every six months.
People who recognize the signs of opioid addiction in themselves or a loved one can find help seeking treatment from DAODAS.