BEACON TRANSCRIPT – On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new reports regarding the opioid epidemic that had taken America by storm and the dangers that await them if heroin consumption continues at such a rate.
In 2010, 38,329 deaths were linked to overdose. Statistics showed how their number increased to 52,404 in 2015. This is more than the number of people who get killed by firearms, which reached 36,252 in 2015.
Also, the 2015 reports showed that one in four overdoses was related to heroin, which is quite worrying, since the heroin death rates were only around 6 percent in 1999. Opioid deaths, which also encompass heroin deaths, are leaders of overdose deaths with 60 percent. The percentage has risen by 10 percent since 2010.
The authorities are worried that such a massive increase in opioid consumption occurred. They noticed an increase in both men and women. Also, the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that this was the first time when the number of overdose deaths in the U.S. exceeded 50,000.
An increasing number of overdoses is, of course, related to an increasing number of consumers. United Nation’s World Drug Report from 2016 found that the number of heroin users almost reached 1 million in 2014. This is three times the number of consumers recorded in 2003.
There are many suppositions on the reason of the alarming increase of heroin use in the U.S. The most plausible theory is probably the fact that doctors have slowed down the prescription of opioid medication. These drugs are legal and they work as painkillers (Vicodin, OxyContin). Their effects are comparable to those of heroin.
Thus, when doctors made it harder for people to obtain opioid prescription drugs, they resorted to the illegal alternative to avoid withdrawal effects. However, heroin abuse has terrible consequences upon one’s health and it might even lead to death.
A heroin overdose can slow or even stop the breathing process, and this might lead to the reduction of oxygen that reaches the brain. This condition is known as hypoxia. Some effects of hypoxia are coma, brain damage, and even death.
The officials hope that, if they make antidotes for overdoses, such as naloxone, they will be able to prevent many deaths.
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