Substance abuse has always been a concern across the U.S., but over the last two decades, it has become an epidemic. Dating back to 2002, 13% of Americans above the age of 12 years old had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication over a 30-day period. 10 years later, that number had increased by over 4 million Americans.
Though alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances, prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine (OTC), and illegal drugs that contain opioids has become a national concern.
Here are some opium drugs that are being abused across the United States:
If you’re worried someone you love is struggling with opioid abuse, you need to be aware of the warning signs and addiction symptoms. Here are some symptoms and signs to look out for:
- Poor coordination
- Anxiety attacks
- Lowered motivation
- Shallow or slow breathing rate
- Nausea or vomitting
- Physical agitation
- Abandoning responsibilities
- Poor decision making
- Mood swings
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Slurred speech
According to USA Today, more than 2 million Americans are currently suffering with opioid-use disorder. There has been a push by many advocates to encourage marijuana use as a cure for opioid use, but some of the top drug scientists across the country remain skeptical of this form of treatment.
“If you don’t treat it properly, your risk of dying is quite high,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “My main concern is by basically misinforming potential patients about the supposedly beneficial effects of cannabis, they may forgo a treatment that is lifesaving.”
Volkow is worried that for the people who struggle with opioid abuse, if they rely on marijuana instead of Food and Drug Administration-approved medications like naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine, they will be much more likely to relapse.
“I’m not saying it’s not possible,” Volkow added. “Like anything else, we do science in order to determine and provide the evidence of whether it’s effective or not.”
If you or anyone you love is struggling with opioid addictions, talk to a medical professional and get support right away.