Addiction does not discriminate against any age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Rather, addiction affects all people, no matter the background. Americans all across the nation are rapidly becoming addicted to opioids, a class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers and the illegal drug heroin. According to a report by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Nora Volkow, M.D., there are 2.1 million people suffering from substance use disorders related to opioid pain relievers. The group that has seen the highest rise in death rates is middle aged women. In fact, the United States has seen a 450 percent increase in the number of deaths among women since 1999. This statistics is attributed largely to opioid use.
Older Americans struggling with substance abuse related to opioids are largely developing their addiction through medical use, and the death rate is much higher in the older group than it is in the younger group. According to Andrew Kolodny, M.D., founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, middle aged women are more likely to visit doctors and complain about a chronic pain problem, resulting in the prescribing of opioid pain relievers. Dr. Volkow reports that women are more likely to experience chronic pain and be prescribed prescription pain relievers, be given higher doses, and take them for longer time periods than men.
One of the main dangers of opioids is the user’s quick progression to tolerance of the drug. With time, a user’s body becomes acclimated to the drug, and the user takes more of it to just feel normal. Opioids also cause respiratory depression — in fact, the number one cause of death in opioid use is respiratory depression. This means that opioids can cause your breathing to stop, resulting in death. Researchers are also studying the long-term effects of opioids on brain function.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, or an addiction of any kind, it is imperative that you seek professional help as soon as possible. The statistics are shocking and unsettling, but you do not need to become one of them. Seeking support from an addiction professional or team of professionals is the best way to ensure your recovery. At Recreate Life Counseling Services, we provide effective, proven methods to help you establish a foundation for your recovery. For more information on how we can help you or your loved one, reach out to us today at (844) 463-3968.