High Alert: America faces spike in opioid abuse


Art by Georgia Moore

Art by Georgia Moore

On October 26th, 2017 The White House publicly declared an Opioid Crisis as an official public health emergency. President Donald J. Trump has stated that he would work alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping to combat the issue.

Opioids are pain relief drugs that have extra strength and are highly addicting. Opioids allow the brain to release the hormone dopamine which allows them to feel happier and distracts them from physical pain felt.

The Opioid Crisis is nothing new, it has been an ongoing struggle in America since the Civil War era and has taken the lives of many. Civil War veterans would rely on opioids to alleviate the pain of their injuries during the war. After years of heavy use, veterans became dangerously dependent on the drug even after they healed. Once a user becomes dependent on the drug, they are at risk of the long term effects which include liver damage as well as brain damage.

In the 1990s the opioid OxyContin was introduced and was the new addictive drug that doctors prescribed. After the addiction rate increased, years later in 2010 a new non-habit forming version of OxyContin was released. Many users who were addicted to prescribed opioids decided to move onto using heroin instead due to the fact that it was more accessible and cheaper.

The Opioid Crisis deals with the abuse of both legal and illegal painkillers. Morphine, Oxycodone, and Hydrocodone are among the drugs that are legally allowed with a prescription. Heroin is one of the drugs that is created with the use of Morphine.

According to The National Drug Institute of Drug Abuse over 90 people overdose on opioids every day. Even with prescribed opioids for chronic pain, over 21 – 29 percent of users still misuse the drug and end up getting addicted to how it makes them feel.

After President Trump’s visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, officials in Beijing will become more strict with cracking down on synthetic drug production as well as distribution within China.