America’s opioid crisis has affected the lives of thousands – more than a quarter of Americans and more than 1 in 3 millennials say they know someone who is addicted to prescription painkillers or opioids, according to a newly released opioid epidemic poll from the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
The APA surveyed more than 1,000 adults, and 69% of respondents say they “understand how someone accidentally gets addicted to opioids”. Most of them also believe that treatment, and not punishment, is the better and more sensible choice in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, and 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2015. On average, 91 people die every day from an opioid overdose in this country.
The APA poll reveals how easily accessible opioids and prescription pain relievers really are. In fact, more than a third of adults surveyed – 39 percent- and nearly half of all millennials surveyed -46 percent – say that it would be extremely or somewhat easy for someone in their community to access illegal opioids and prescription painkillers.
Many people who abuse prescription opioids get them from a friend or family member who has a prescription for the medication. Anyone who takes prescription painkillers can become addicted to them, and it can be very hard to stop. In fact, according to the CDC, one in four people receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting are struggling with opioid addiction.
APA Opioid Epidemic Poll Shows Most Americans Believe it’s bad to Take Medication without a Prescription, but Differing Views Exist Among Generations
The poll revealed that the majority of respondents – 87 percent- say it is bad to take a prescription medication without a prescription. However, the poll also showed a difference in perception among different generations, with 10 percent of baby boomers saying it isn’t that bad and 18 percent of millennials (almost 1 in 5) saying it was not that bad.
Forty three percent of the people surveyed say that the U.S. is headed in the wrong direction when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic. Most respondents (73%) say they believe people can recover from opioid dependence, and more than 80 percent say they know someone who has suffered from addiction. The poll also revealed that people who did not know anyone who has suffered from addiction are less likely to believe that recovery is possible.
The survey also asked people what they thought policymakers should prioritize when working against the opioid crisis.
- 58 percent said policymakers should prioritize the improvement of access to treatment, while only 26 percent said stricter punishment.
- 44 percent said policymakers should work with doctors to limit prescriptions.
- 40 percent said they should prioritize working with addicts to help end their addiction.
The typical treatment approach used in opioid addiction rehabilitation is known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). This treatment model uses medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat the substance abuse disorder and prevent opioid overdose. MAT is used by some rehabilitation centers to treat people who are addicted to illegal opioids like heroin and opioid prescription pain relievers.
The medication used in MAT works to stabilize the patient’s brain chemistry, normalize body functions, as well as block the euphoric effects of the drugs and relieve cravings. MAT programs are headed by professional clinicians and tailored to meet each patient’s needs. By law, patients enrolled in a MAT program must receive counseling, as well as medical, vocational, educational, and variety of other assessments and rehabilitation services.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the MAT model has several benefits, including:
- Decreasing the use of opioids, overdose deaths caused by opioids, criminal activity, and the transmission of infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV.
- Increase a patient’s ability to gain and maintain a job.
- MAT has been found to increase social functioning and retention during treatment. A study revealed that patient who were treated with medication were more likely to stay in therapy compared to those who received treatment without medication.
- MAT has shown to reduce symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome and length of hospital stay in pregnant women, as well as improve outcomes for babies of mothers who receive methadone or buprenorphine during treatment.
Others argue that the use of these medications in treatment is more like putting a band-aid on an open wound. Methadone itself can be very addictive if not regulated by a medical professional. Around 120,000 Americans take methadone to manage their heroin addiction. Unfortuantely, this and many other medications used in MAT programs have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Even when used properly, methadone has a variety of serious side effects, including:
- Heart problems
- Gastrointestinal problems and pain
- Breathing issues
- Sexual dysfunction
- Anxiety and depression
- Suicidal thoughts
Unfortunately, these symptoms only become heightened when the person becomes dependent on the medication. Alternative treatment options include intensive behavioral therapy models combined with holistic treatment and relapse prevention education to address the opioid addiction.
At Get Treatment, we are dedicated to helping individuals and their loved ones get help for opiate addiction. Our network of top rated addiction treatment centers and rehab facilities across the country gives you access to programs that meet your needs for recovery. Our admissions professionals can help you locate a certified drug and alcohol treatment center that will tailor treatment programs and provide a multidisciplinary approach to treatment. If you are one of the many Americans suffering from opioid addiction or you know someone who is, call Get Treatment at 855-638-9268 and get started on the path to lasting recovery.
- NIDA. (2016, November 1). Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/effective-treatments-opioid-addiction-0 on 2017, May 26
- “APA Public Opinion Poll – Annual Meeting 2017”. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 May 2017. from https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/apa-public-opinion-poll-annual-meeting-2017
- “Americans Favor Treatment, Not Enforcement, To Address Opioid Crisis”. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 May 2017. from https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/americans-favor-treatment-not-enforcement-to-address-opioid-crisis
- “Medication And Counseling Treatment | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration”. Samhsa.gov. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 May 2017. from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment
- “Opioid Overdose | Drug Overdose | CDC Injury Center”. N.p., 2017. Web. 26 May 2017. from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html