Pain Pill Abuse in the United States Instructor University Pain Pill Abuse in the United States Introduction: Over the past few years, the complex problems of chronic pain and substance abuse have been steadily growing both in scope and severity which has inevitably increased the number of individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder…
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Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the drug virus has gained strength and tightened its clutches around our society. (Relieving pain in America, 2011). Our nation seems to be losing the war against drug abuse despite having the best medical facilities in the world, an unparalleled education system and state of the art research laboratories. The growing concerns over the rise of opioid abuse, overdoses and abuse related deaths over the past two decades have made it quite difficult for patients in dire need of opioid analgesics to gain access to pain relievers. Ironically, it has been observed that despite strict control over the provision of opioid analgesics it is somehow easier for the addicts to get access to opioids as compared to nursing homes and medical facilities. Prescription Pain Pills: The plant Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, has been the source of various medications since the last 3,500 years. Poppy plants were cultivated for their sedative, analgesic, and anti-diarrheal properties in the Greco-Roman era. Today, two groups of medications are available which are derived from Papaver somniferum; Opiates and Opioids. The naturally occurring compounds derived from the active alkaloids of opium poppy are known as Opiates, whereas, the synthetic or semi synthetic compounds are referred to as Opioids. The Opiates include morphine, codeine and thebaine. On the other hand, the Opioids consist of synthetic and semi synthetic compounds such as methadone, pentazocine and oxycodone. Pain pills are prescribed for the management of pain and suffering associated with terminal illness. The active ingredient in pharmaceutical pain medication is either an opiate or an opioid which after metabolism yields a compound which is chemically identical to the opiate present in Heroin. (Johnson 2011). Etiology: Opiate dependence has no clearly defined etiology. The risk of opiate dependence is governed by multiple factors such as genetics, psychiatric co morbidity, social and environmental exposures. In accordance with Twin studies, genetic risk for opiate dependence accounts for about 45-50% of the risk for opiate dependence. Moreover, drug exposure also plays a central role in the development of addiction among adolescents. (Johnson 2011). Epidemiology: In the United States, the primary abused opiate throughout the twenty first century was Heroin. Epidemics of opiate dependence broke out soon after World War I, World War II and the Vietnam Conflict. The dependence was particularly severe among victims of sexual abuse, psychiatric disorders and combat trauma. According to the report of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in 2006, the number of individuals who have used Heroin at least once in their lifetime is 3.79 million whereas, the number of individuals addicted to prescription pain pills are 250,000. (Johnson 2011). Abuse of Opioid Analgesics: Traditionally, the United States Drug Authorities perceived that opioid analgesics abuses occupied a relatively small portion of the nation’s drug addiction problem. However, recent statistics have revealed contrasting results. A period of abuse was initially triggered when susceptible individuals discovered the potent euphoric effect of the injection containing Talwin and amphetamines. The abuse of the injection was
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