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The Two Drugs Driving America’s Opioid Epidemic

Aside from medical epidemics such as Cancer and AIDS that have been flooding our nation for almost the past three decades now, another epidemic has snuck its way into American homes that no one seemed to have seen coming.

It’s the opioid epidemic, and it’s becoming a nationwide problem among our households.

What Is an Opioid?

An opioid is a common drug that is often used for methods of pain relief. At first, people would get prescribed an opioid routinely post-surgery or to ease pain relief from unexpected sudden pain such as from an accident. The pharmaceutical companies made these opioids back in the late 1990s and even tried to reassure the community that addiction was very low to occur among patients using prescribed opioids. However, somewhere along the way in the past few decades, healthcare providers started prescribing opioids at an astronomical rate and people started abusing the drugs. They would do this in a variety of different ways, such as buying and selling opioids on the streets, getting a prescription from one doctor without communicating it to another doctor who would prescribe more, to name a few.

Accidental Opioid Overdose Deaths

As a result of the abuse of opioids, accidental opioid overdoses have occurred in the United States as an astronomical rate causing high number of deaths to lead us into an opioid epidemic that is sparking a nationwide discussion. The deaths are occurring as people are ingesting a high number of opioids which can lead to respiratory depression, thus causing death from respiratory failure. According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), “From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 people have died from a drug overdose. Around 68% of the more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl) was 6 times higher than in 1999. On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”Think about that statistic for a moment and imagine 130 of your closest friends and family members – that is how many Americans are dying every day from this epidemic.

The Two Most Common Opioids

Among the many different types of opioids that are out there, heroin and fentanyl are the top two that are behind this epidemic. Heroin is a highly addictive drug and is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium, which is often turned to for patients with extreme pain. It contains anxiolytic and analgesic central nervous system properties. Compared to fentanyl, which according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), “is a synthetic opioid, that is about 80 times stronger than morphine. It was originally created to treat pain among cancer patients”2. Both are highly addictive and are usually classified as a narcotic, which is a term often used to warn patients of the severity of potency if not taken as prescribed.

What Is Primarily Causing Opioid Overdose Deaths?

A lot of times people go to purchase heroin on the streets when they don’t realize they are actually purchasing fentanyl which is likely why people are overdosing so bad on the drug—they simply don’t realize that what they are taking is stronger than what they intended to take. Additionally, patients will obtain a prescription from one doctor who did not communicate with their other doctor who prescribed the same drug, so suddenly they are taking an increased dose simply because the two doctor’s offices did not communicate to one another. As always, if someone is prescribed an opioid, it is best to take it the way a licensed doctor prescribes it and it’s best to communicate what medications you are taking to all of your doctors, as they might not be talking to each other. The problem is, people are also abusing the prescription their doctor is giving them or they are simply buying the drug off the street which is contributing to the opioid crisis that is turning heads and changing families forever across the nation.

Opioid Smuggling Problems Are Primarily to Blame

Although opioids are typically prescribed from a reputable healthcare setting to treat different forms of pain for patients, a big contribution to the epidemic is that the drug is being smuggled in by countless numbers and flooding our streets to people who simply just want a high or to those who are just not educated enough on what they are truly taking. Drug smuggling comes down to border patrol, what other countries are trying to infiltrate our county with, and simply trying to make money off of selling illegal drugs. That’s why it is imperative that we as a country make a change to try and prevent this from continuing to happen.

How Currency Tracking Technologies Can Help

We as a nation need what we at Currency Tracking Technologies (CTT) have developed, which is tracking software which records currency information to try and eliminate criminal drug trafficking problems to begin with. If more law enforcement agencies were aware and implemented the use of our software, perhaps we all can take a stronger stand against the opioid epidemic and stop accidental drug overdose deaths from tearing American families apart due to the loss of life and loved ones.

Want to support CTT’s mission?  We invite you to learn how.


 Sources:

1.     https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

2.   https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl

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