Opioid abuse is on the rise. Drugs like Oxycodone, Fentanyl and heroin are being attributed to more deaths nationally and locally than previous years.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 10,500 people died to overdoses related to heroin and other opioids in 2014, a rise of 26 percent from the previous year. Also, heroin related deaths have tripled since 2010.
According to a U.S. government survey, over 19 million Americans misuse prescription painkillers like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone, also known as Oxycontin and Vicodin respectively, every year.
In Rochester, opioid misuse is rampant. Death tolls from heroin rose to 71 since this summer, and in 2015, the total amount of fatalities that were attributed to heroin reached 69.
Studies from the CDC have shown that large margin of heroin users, have been or are still, addicted to painkillers. Oxycontin is currently being sold on the street for more per dose than heroin. Heroin has become an attractive alternative to those who cannot receive pain meds.
As a result of that price discrepancy, painkillers are the “gateway” to many people abusing heroin. In New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed a no tolerance policy for the misuse of opioids. Cuomo signed legislation that would help combat the opioid epidemic.
The new legislation allows doctors to only prescribe a seven day dose of painkillers—like Oxycontin—instead of the normal thirty for acute pain. Doctors are allowed to prescribe more with an exception for chronic pain.
Although, many physicians are recommending that patients who experience chronic pain to find alternatives. Ranging from acupuncture and chiropractic care, doctors stress that there are other choices than painkillers.
People who are, or know anyone addicted to opioids are urged to seek a recovery program. At MCC, Health Services is available in Building 3-165. For information on alternative recover programs, see the Monroe Doctrine’s website at monroedoctrine.org or www.ncadd-ra.org.