The Opioid Epidemic: Everything You Need to Know
For years, big pharmaceutical companies have been providing medication to individuals in order to treat ailments, heal lasting conditions, and prevent individuals from experiencing pain. Unfortunately, the latter has become a significant problem in the nation.
Opiates—or painkillers—have long been used as a pain medication for individuals suffering from significant injuries, cancer, or other damaging conditions. Known by most as OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, and others, these prescription medications have been increasingly dangerous over the years.
Millions of prescriptions for opiates are written each year for patients, but it’s those who abuse the drug that have suffered the consequences. There have been countless individuals harmed—and many more tragically lost—as a result of overdose from opioid use.
This has become a national epidemic—a crisis that must be taken seriously. With nobody taking blame for the actions, someone must be held accountable. This is why it’s so important for the family members of those impacted to understand the crisis, the effects, and what comes next.
The Crisis By the Numbers
In 2016, it was reported that 116 people died each day as a result of overdoses associated with opioids. Over 11 million people misused the prescriptions they were given for their pain, and overall, 42,000+ people died as a result.
Stats show that over two million people dealt with an opioid use disorder. It was more common—and damaging—than the use of heroin and cost the nation over $500 billion as a result. These results are disastrous and continue to stand as a serious problem in our nation.
Between July 2016 and September 2017, opioid overdoes increased 70% in the Midwestern region alone.
These numbers show a problem—one that must be stopped. There are few ways to do it, and to get to the root of it all, we must know how opioid abuse occurred and the effects, as well as what can be done to help.
How Opiate Addiction Occurs
Opiate use typically begins when an individual sustains a significant injury or has a need for pain relievers. The consulting doctor may prescribe various types of pain killers such as hydrocodone (or Vicodin®), oxycodone (or OxyContin®, Percocet®), or morphine.
The original idea for these prescription drugs called for them to be used only to relieve pain. Over time, individuals have become addicted to the drugs and how they make the user feel. Addiction occurs for a number of reasons, including but not limited to the following:
- To relieve pain
- To sleep
- To relieve tension
- To help with feelings
As the individuals use the drug more and more, their body adapts to the amount they’re taking. This means the user has to consume more of the drug in order to feel the effects. Unfortunately, this leads to addiction and the more drugs the user takes, the higher the risk for overdose.
Opiate use has been said to result in getting the user higher than other drugs such as heroin. It makes it more probable for users to get addicted to pain relievers because of the feeling they get. However, that’s not the only feeling they get.
Users of opioids may not realize what they’re doing to themselves and their families, both physically and emotionally.
Physically, the more they use the prescription drugs, the more damage they’re doing to their organs. There is a high potential for liver damage, respiratory failure, clogged blood vessels, nervous system problems, sensory issues, and more.
Emotionally, opiates can cause depression and a disconnect from family members. It can cause the user to become sleepy often, even during the day. It can also cause cognitive and speaking issues of which the user may not be aware.
One of the bigger impacts of opioid use is the impact on relationships between the user and his or her family. This epidemic often breaks families apart, causing turmoil and often leaving the user on their own or with other users.
The most damaging effects of opioid use? Death. Far too often, opioid use turns into opioid overdose. This is the biggest problem with the epidemic in America; thousands of people are dying as a result of overdose.
What Can Be Done to Help Stop the Epidemic
As of right now, there have been a number of efforts to help stop the opioid epidemic. While family members work to help their loved ones, the small efforts can only do so much for the overall picture. Enter the legal system.
Proving fault in the epidemic can be difficult, but one party who may play a large role in the epidemic is big pharmaceutical. These companies are looking out for their own profit margins; they don’t care about what happens to the individuals who take their drugs, nor do they care if they are misused.
If more and more people take action—much like Palm Beach County currently is—the large pharmaceutical companies may be forced to take accountability and work to correct their role in the problem.
People must stand up to the serious problem threatening millions of Americans each year. It’s important for individuals and families to know what options they have to seek help. Even more, they must know that there are options to seek justice.
Our legal team at The Ferraro Law Firm has stepped to the plate to help Palm Beach County in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Our Florida opioid attorneys are representing the county against (currently) 29 big pharmaceutical companies.
We’re also offering our experience and knowledge to other municipalities to help improve the lives of those in South Florida. And we encourage other legal leaders to step forward to help their own communities move forward.
We understand how serious this epidemic is. It ruins lives. It tears families apart. And it is deadly. Don’t stand by while big pharmaceutical makes money off of tragedy. Learn what options are available and how our firm is helping in the fight against one of the most tragic crises in our state.
If you are wondering what legal options are available, call us at (888) 554-2030.