The term opioid refers to drugs that bind to one or more of the body’s opioid receptors. Some are derived from the opium plant while others are synthetic. Most commonly, opioids are used for pain relief, but they can also be used in treatment of diarrhea, cough and other conditions. Prescription painkillers have come under fire in recent years as they have proven to be incredibly addictive. Half the counties in California have banded together to take legal action against pharmaceutical companies as painkiller addiction issues have plagued the state, and other opioids like heroin and fentanyl continue to wreak havoc on our communities.
The California counties allege that pharmaceutical companies downplayed the addictive nature of prescription painkillers and neglected to act responsibly in areas where unusually large quantities of the drug were routed. Painkiller addiction may impact people across a wide range of demographics from rural areas to larger cities, but the rural counties of California seem to be taking the hardest hits. Part of the issue may reside with healthcare professionals as they have pushed back against regulation and monitoring of prescriptions. However, it’s estimated that 2/3 of the people abusing prescription medicine are borrowing, stealing or buying the medications outside of legal channels.
As the cost of prescription painkillers has risen sharply over the past few years and measures have been taken to make it somewhat harder to divert them to the black market, some people are transitioning to heroin use. Most demographic groups, even those previously not associated with heroin, have shown an uptick in heroin use in recent years. California’s proximity to Mexico makes it a hotspot for smuggling drugs across the border leading to a constant, readily available supply. Heroin is highly addictive, and those trying to quit on their own experience a relapse rate over 90%.
As powerful as heroin is, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be as much as 50 times more potent. Given its strength and the fact that some users may not even realize they’re taking fentanyl instead of heroin, there has been an alarming increase in overdose cases in California and across the nation. Fentanyl is easy to produce, and it’s cheap which may make it an appealing alternative to those struggling to keep up with a painkiller addiction. A rapid influx in counterfeit medications made from fentanyl can make it extremely difficult to know exactly what you’re taking if you’re sourcing drugs outside of the proper channels.
Even if they’re only used for a short time, opioids like prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl carry a significant risk of addiction. California’s premier opioid rehab treatment center at Cycles of Change can help you gain the courage, knowledge and determination to maintain a drug-free lifestyle. We know treatment is not a one-size-fits-all process, and our team will work with you personally to develop a plan customized to meet your needs. When you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact our compassionate professionals today.