Opioid Use Disorder and Overdose DeathsNovember 2, 2020
Prescription opioids, non-medical fentanyl, and heroin use all pose a significant risk to human beings. They all can lead to an opioid use disorder and carry the risk of overdose. As we shared a couple of weeks ago, the drug positivity rate for non-prescribed fentanyl and heroin rose exponentially in recent months, as did the drug positivity rate for fentanyl and other addictive substances like benzodiazepines.
Opioid use disorder affects the lives of millions of Americans. While treatable, people living with opioid addiction often struggle to get on the road to recovery. This is especially true during these challenging times.
Most of the news these days regarding opioid use disorder has to do with fentanyl and heroin. The former can be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and it’s rarely prescribed outside of a hospital setting. Although, fentanyl has found its way onto the black market in recent years, it’s often mixed with heroin (unbeknownst to the user) to boost the potency of the latter, which significantly increases the risk of an overdose.
Prescription opioid abuse is still a significant problem in many parts of the United States, and it continues to be a major facet of the epidemic. Oxycodone and hydrocodone are often involved in overdoses, but fentanyl has become the number one offender.
With everything that is happening in the U.S., it may not surprise you to learn that overdoses are up in 2020 for the second year in a row, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that we will see more than 75,500 drug-related deaths in 2020, NPR reports. The agency found that drug overdose deaths rose 10 percent during the first three months of this year.
Prescription Opioid Maker Agrees to Plead Guilty
The pandemic has likely played a role in the increase, but so too has the spread of fentanyl across the United States. Both Florida and California saw increases of 20 percent in overdose deaths, according to preliminary data. The news is concerning, and it’s an indicator that the opioid addiction epidemic is still in full force.
In other news, Purdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges related to its marketing of their flagship narcotic—OxyContin. The Justice Department announced an $8 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma about its role in the opioid addiction epidemic, The New York Times reports. Moreover, members of the Sackler family, the company’s primary shareholders, will pay $225 million in civil penalties. The Sacklers will turn over ownership of the company.
Many of you have heard of the thousands of lawsuits filed against Purdue Pharma over the last few years. The agreement reached between the Justice Department and Purdue Pharma may lead to a resolution in several cases. However, the settlement does not preclude the filing of criminal charges against Purdue executives or individual members of the Sackler family.
OxyContin is a powerful opioid painkiller marketed to doctors and patients alike as being safe and carrying a low risk of addiction. The company’s claim of offering a nonaddictive pain management option may have led to hundreds of thousands of opioid use disorders and an untold number of overdoses. Some view the settlement with Purdue Pharma as a victory, whereas others are not satisfied.
“The D.O.J. failed,” said Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers, and I will never sell out the families who have been calling for justice for so long.”
Opioid Use Disorder Recovery
If your loved one is caught in the grips of an opioid use disorder, Whitman Recovery Service can help them take the first steps toward recovery. We have more than 30 years of experience staging interventions throughout the United States; we have staged over 1,000 interventions and have a 98 percent success rate. Please contact Whitman Recovery Service today to learn more: (210) 291-0278.