The Hard Truth on Hard Meds

The Hard Truth on Hard Meds

Xavier Mandujano, Contributor

Prescription overdoses aren’t a thing of the past; they’re hitting harder than ever before. In the ’90s, the first wave of rising opioid-related overdoses increased, and with that came the number of doctors prescribing more and more people hard pain medication. Add that with the number of prescribed refills given, it was almost too easy to get patients hooked on opioids. Shortly after that came the second wave with a large amount of abuse and deaths caused by heroin in 2010, and then again with another wave in 2013 with the rise of synthetic opioids, particularly those involving illicitly manufactured Fentanyl. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), overdose deaths are still four times higher in 2018 than they were in 1999, and 70% of the 67,000 deaths in 2018 involved an opioid. To better understand why there is such a rise of opioid-related deaths, I researched and analyzed articles focusing on the pharmaceutical companies producing these medications and what their take is on the opioid crisis versus in the late 1990s as they assured the medical community patients could not become addicted to prescription opioid pain meds, stated by the National Institute On Drug Abuse. 

Unlike other counties, The United States faces the biggest crisis. For example, the United Kingdom does not have an opioid problem like the US. Rather, they face different challenges such as the “party drug” scene which is still lower in addiction and death tolls compared to the United States, Japan, Korea, and India. Most of the counterfeit and illicitly manufactured drugs such as Fentanyl, meth, counterfeit opioids, and many more deadly drugs are produced by these countries. China, Japan, and Korea were hit hard in late 2015 by the street drug known as “Yaba” which is crystal meth diluted with Fentanyl (known as the synthetic opioid stronger than heroin and responsible for the majority of opioid-related deaths across America, China, and Japan). It was introduced as a tool to help workers in these striving countries stay awake and keep working for days. Over time, “Yaba” has gained popularity and is now partially responsible for a huge outbreak of opioid dependence on the younger generations and the hard workers trying to make a living. Now, they must overcome a new challenge which may be harder than the work itself.

Due to the opioid crisis, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services focuses its efforts on five major priorities–one of which is “advancing better practices for pain management;” others include “promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs” and improving treatment centers as well as their recovery services.

Now in 2020, as we face a tragic pandemic, the Association of. American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) data is concerning so far. Fentanyl, meth, and cocaine have increased at an alarming rate, as well as drug overdoses which have jumped  18% just in the 6 months of quarantine. It seems the public is turning to substances as a way to cope with the boredom and/or stress of staying inside away from others, and not going out to restaurants, bars, movies and so many other forms of entertainment. 

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