The Opioid Crisis
Opioids and opiates are drugs that are made from the opium poppy plant, and that act as “downers”. The substances in the drug act directly in opioid receptors of the brain, which are popularly referred to as “pleasure receptors”. Legal, lab-produced versions of these drugs are usually prescribed for pain management. These have to be taken under doctor’s orders and monitored by professionals, so as to avoid problems such as addiction.
Legal opioids have often been linked to cases of intoxication or overdoses, but they are not the main culprit of the crisis. While it can be obtained legally, illicit fentanyl is the most used drug in lethal cases in the U.S. It has been the number-one cause of drug-related deaths in many states, including Maryland and Arizona. It is also mixed with other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, to make them more powerful.
It is possible to say the U.S. has gone through three waves of this crisis, with the last wave being the one we are currently in. A rise in prescription opioid-related deaths was responsible for the first one; in the second, heroin was the main cause for concern; and now, the issue at hand is synthetic opioids, with numbers reported at levels never seen before.
In Florida, however, things seemed to have taken a turn for the worse quite “early” in the third wave of the crisis. In May of 2017, Florida declared a state of emergency, making it one of the six states in the country to do so.
Facts About The Opioid Crisis in Florida
Most of the information available on the opioid crisis in the state only goes as far as 2017, with very little information in the following years.
- 2015 was the first year in which fentanyl killed more than alcohol and other non-prescription opiates.
- By 2016, Florida’s number of opioid-related deaths per 100,000 pop. was above the national average.
- It was in the second half of 2017 that fentanyl became the leading cause of death in opioid-related lethal intoxications and overdoses in Florida.
- The drug most commonly mixed with fentanyl analogs in overdose cases is cocaine, followed by morphine and ethanol, respectively.
- Among all of the opioid-related deaths reported in the first half of 2018, 60% of them listed fentanyl as the main culprit.
- The leading cause of death for drug-related cases in the first half of 2018 was fentanyl, the second one being cocaine, and the third one, benzodiazepines.
- The numbers related to fentanyl have kept on growing – compared to the same time the year before, fentanyl-related deaths in the first half of 2018 had increased by 64%.
- According to data available till 2017, the group demographics that seem most at risk of opioid-related deaths according to race, gender, and age, respectively, are whites, males, and ages 25-34. However, victims from ages 35-44 were almost tied in numbers.
- In 2017, the county in Florida with the highest number of opioid-related deaths was Duval County, in Jacksonville, with 39.1 deaths per 100,000 pop.
- Heroin and fentanyl were named the cause of death in more than 50% of cases in which the drug was found.
The numbers associated with the opioid crisis are scary across the country, not just in Florida. However, even though cocaine is still causing large amounts of deaths in the state, the fact that Florida is still registering such high numbers even after declaring a state of emergency is alarming.
Many factors could have played a role in the current scenario of the opioid crisis in the state. “Pill mills”, which were established in the 1990s and proliferated in the early 2000s, gave out prescription painkillers more easily than in other states, to the point where people would come to Florida to obtain such drugs. This not only helped cause addiction in Florida, but it actually set fuel to the fire that was happening in other states as well.
Signs of Abuse and Withdrawal
Even though each opioid brings on symptoms in different ways and intensities, there are some reactions common to almost all drugs, considering they all affect the opioid receptors in the brain. Additionally, when it comes to drugs, there are behaviors and habits common to most addicts. Some of the possible signs of opioid abuse are:
- Changing social scenes and socializing in different groups and locations
- Spending a lot of time alone and/or avoiding family and friends
- Not taking care of personal hygiene
- Constant tiredness and/or sadness
- Eating more or less than usual
- Being overly energetic, talking fast and/or not making sense
- Being nervous, cranky, or even moody
- Erratic sleep cycles
- Missing appointments frequently and changing schedules
- Experiencing financial problems
Once a person dealing with substance abuse decides to stop, however, there are other symptoms to worry about, too. These can act up in the first 6-12 hours after the last dose for short-acting opiates, and in 30 hours for long-acting ones:
- Agitation and/or anxiety
- Rapid heart rate and/or hypertension
- Muscle pains
- Restlessness and tiredness
- A runny nose
- Chills and goosebumps
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Drug craving
Getting The Help You Need
Addiction to opioids can have many causes and reasons, but no matter how it started, you can put an end to it. It might seem like a hard feat at first, but just as many come to a horrible end because of their lifestyles, many people make the decision to improve their lives and have new beginnings, leaving addiction behind at once.
If you or a loved one suffered through the many ups and downs of opiate addiction and need help, we at Amethyst Recovery Center can guide you through this entire process. Visit our website and contact us at any time. Our professionals are available 24/7 to give you all the information you might need and to answer any questions you have. All are welcome to our facilities, and into a whole new life free of substance abuse.