The Opioid Epidemic – Is History Repeating Itself?

Although America is said to be in the “midst of an opioid epidemic”, this is not the first time the problem has arisen. During the 1800s, opium was used for a variety of problems from pain to the prevention of disease such as typhoid. Laudanum, which contained opium, was used at this time for a variety of ailments. It stands to reason that many people became addicted to opium. One example is the wife of President Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln. With advanced education, today the problem is being addressed in hopes of turning things around and stopping widespread addiction. This is why services such as 12 Keys Rehab offer programs.

Opium Abuse on the Rise in the 1800s

Opium was prescribed by doctors during the 1800s, particularly to Civil War soldiers. It was given in pill and powder form as well as tinctures. Because it was such a potent pain reliever, its popularity increased. After the hypodermic needle was introduced, it was easier for doctors to use opium to provide instant relief for pain. Opium abuse became a national crisis between the years of 1860 and 1880. By 1895, it was considered an epidemic, and the general consensus was this was caused by physicians over prescribing the drug.

A Cure for Morphine Addiction

One of the most common solutions for addiction is to replace an addictive drug with another drug that may be just as addictive. During the 1900s when many soldiers had become addicted to morphine, researchers began to look for a cure. This led to the development of heroin and cocaine. At this time there were a number of over-the-counter remedies that contained cocaine including sinus medications. Cocaine was also put into sodas and wines by beverage makers because it offered energizing effects. It was even used in pills manufactured by Bayer as a treatment for respiratory problems as well as the flu.

An Increase in Heroin and Cocaine Use

Heroin abuse increased in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the number of overdose deaths was far fewer at the height of the heroin epidemic than what is being experienced today. The same is true for cocaine overdoses when the use of this drug surged in the 1980s. It is thought that part of the reason for the increased use of heroin is attributed to Vietnam soldiers. It was widely available to troops and it was inexpensive. Use of this drug provided the benefits of ridding soldiers of physical as well as psychological pain.

Today’s Epidemic

According to the Center for Disease Control, 64,070 people died from drug overdose in 2016. Oxycontin made an appearance around 1995. It was another drug that was meant to replace other addictive drugs because it was supposed to be safer. It was originally a medication that would be released slowly to fight chronic pain. However, Oxycontin turned out to be just as addictive. People began to crush the tablets so they could inject the drug into their veins as well as snorting it so that it entered the bloodstream at a much faster rate than taking the tablets.

Abuse of oxycontin as well as other opioids such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine, and morphine are part of the epidemic that is not only killing people, but seriously impacting families. Children are particularly feeling the effects of this widespread problem. Perhaps the answer lies in taking a better look at the cause of the problem. Today every other advertisement is for pills. Society relies on medication for every ailment. One choice is a Florida Drug Rehab for treatment.

In addition, adults, teens, and children should be provided with the right tools to fight against addictive drugs. Although government and others are waging “the war on drugs”, it is not only illegal drugs that are causing the problems. Most people think that drug abuse involves illegal drugs, but a vast majority of the drugs are prescription or over-the-counter. The misuse of many of these drugs result in a high that can result in addiction, injury, and death. Many children as young as eight and ten years old raid their parent’s medicine cabinets for drugs to get high.

Over-prescribing is one problem that needs to be addressed. Additionally, it should be a priority to identify problems that are being temporarily fixed with drugs and explore alternatives. History is being repeated as people turn to new drugs when problems arise with existing ones, resulting in a continuous cycle of drug abuse.



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