Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the Nation. The Administration's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan entitled Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis provides a national framework for reducing prescription drug diversion and abuse by supporting the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs.
It, for example, recommends secure, more convenient, and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove expired, unused, or unneeded medications from the home. It also supports education for patients and healthcare providers while reducing the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts. This is not surprising considering that Illinois has had major struggles with prescription opioid addiction and the resulting overdose cases.
Prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse is the leading cause of substance-related deaths in Lake County. In 2010, prescription drugs caused over 40% of the substance abuse deaths in Lake County.
Prescription drug abuse is increasing because the drugs are available in the homes of most of the young people in the state as well as in the homes of their close relatives. In fact, most young people usually get the drugs for free by stealing them.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs also seem safer than illegal drugs because doctors approve their use. However, prescription drugs can be as harmful as illegal drugs when taken improperly. The signs of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse vary according to which drugs are being abused, in what way, and in what combination.
While street drugs pose a clear and obvious threat to health, many people erroneously believe that prescription drugs are a safer alternative. Prescription drugs such as Hydrocodone, codeine and Fentanyl are used to manage pain and are typically given after surgery or serious injuries. Misusing these medications can lead to addiction or heroin use.
Opiates work by intercepting pain signals in the brain. They are commonly used after serious injuries or surgery or to treat other major pain. About 200 million prescriptions are filled annually. The easy access to and availability of opioids is believed to help fuel the demand for some street drugs, such as heroin.
According to the CDC, the most problematic prescription opiates in the state include hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone. Other commonly abused prescription drugs include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and sleeping medications.
Risks associated with prescription drug misuse can lead to depressed breathing, sedation, difficulty concentrating, a heightened risk of accidents, memory problems, liver damage, nausea and vomiting, constipation, brain damage and addiction.
About 2 million Americans are believed to suffer from prescription opioid dependence, and every day, about 1,000 people seek emergency care for opioid misuse. In 2017, there were 2,202 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in Illinois—a rate of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is higher than the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
The greatest increase in opioid deaths was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids (mainly Fentanyl): a rise from 127 deaths in 2014 to 1,187 deaths in 2017. Deaths involving heroin also increased significantly in the same 3-year period: from 844 to 1,251 deaths. There were 623 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2017, nearly double the 343 deaths in 2014.
In 2017, Illinois providers wrote 51.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions. This is the lowest rate in the state since data became available in 2006 according to the CDC.
The rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions has not followed this trend. From 2015 through 2017 alone, the rate increased more than 75 percent to 4.8 deaths per 100,000 persons.
NAS or neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) may occur when a pregnant woman uses drugs such as opioids during pregnancy. A recent national study revealed a fivefold increase in the incidence of NAS/NOWS between 2004 and 2014, from 1.5 cases per 1,000 hospital births to 8.0 cases per 1,000 hospital births.
This was at a rate of one baby born with NAS/NOWS every 15 minutes in the United States. During the same period, hospital costs for NAS/NOWS births increased from $91 million to $563 million, after adjusting for inflation.
In 2016, the rate of NAS/NOWS in Illinois was about 2.7 NAS/NOWS cases per 1,000 hospital births, affecting 391 babies born in Illinois that year (Illinois Department of Public Health).
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 1,384 occurred in Illinois. Among males, 5.8 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 14.6 percent of new HIV cases were attributed to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
In 2015, an estimated 35,441 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in Illinois—a rate of 330 cases per 100,000 persons. Of those, 16.5 percent of male cases were attributed to opioid abuse or male-to-male contact and opioid abuse. Among females, 24.3 percent were living with HIV attributed to opioid abuse.
There were approximately 21 new cases of acute HCV (0.2 per 100,000 persons) reported in Illinois in 2016. In Illinois, there are an estimated 55,800 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 570 cases per 100,000 persons. A large number of these cases were attributable to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
Illinois is home to one of the eleven Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs): The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville/St. Louis University Center of Excellence in Pain Education.
The CoEPEs act as hubs for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy and other schools to improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.
A licensed treatment facility can give people an ally in fighting their addictions. With an individualized treatment plan designed to meet personal goals and objectives, a patient can have access to the strategies that will propel them towards recovery and a healthy, positive outcome. Residential care, hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs, dual diagnosis, counseling, behavioral management programs and comprehensive support will give them the tools they need to achieve abstinence, wellness and an improved quality of life. Call any Illinois rehab facility today to learn more and to schedule an appointment with the respective admissions teams.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
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