The United States has been battling a dependence on opioids for several years now as people across the country have become addicted to these types of drugs. Countless people have seen firsthand the consequences, which have been growing in severity. With so many people abusing opioids and a rising number of related deaths, the country is facing one of its largest national public health crises. Banyan’s Milford rehab is taking a closer look at the Delaware opioid crisis and highlighting the very real dangers that are associated with this kind of drug abuse.
How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?
They work by affecting the neurons in your brain, telling it to block pain, and resulting in feelings of euphoria or intense happiness. This euphoria is especially deceiving because while the inside of the mind can feel like a wonderland for a few fleeting moments, the reality of the scenario will always trump those sensations.
Short-term effects of opioids include:
- Suppressed breathing
- A diminished sense of awareness
Many opioid-addicted individuals can attest to the fact that the first time using their drug of choice is a transformative experience, but not for the better. It is an all-too-common occurrence that these people will spend a large amount of time and money chasing the feeling of that first high, which they can never seem to fully recreate. What it does lead to are long-term consequences that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Long-term effects of opioids include:
- Impaired decision-making skills
- Development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction
- Infection of the lungs and heart
- Severe muscular pain
There are many common opioids that people use to obtain these effects, from natural forms (like morphine) to synthetic opioids (such as methadone and tramadol) to semisynthetic options (including oxycodone.) The most infamous examples are heroin and fentanyl, which have played an increasingly significant role in the crisis that continues to escalate in Delaware and the rest of the country. If you or someone you care about is during opioid addiction, Banyan offers options for detox in Delaware that can comprehensively treat the withdrawal effects.
The Opioid Epidemic in Delaware
Although Delaware is one of the smallest states in the country, it, too, has been struggling with opioids. Prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids have all caused devastation throughout the state.
One of the biggest contributors to the opioid crisis continues to be prescription opioids. While the average rate of opioid prescriptions written for every 100 persons in the United States was 51.4 in 2018, Delaware exceeded these numbers with a rate of 60.6.1 Because many people will begin by abusing these painkillers before turning to heroin, the high number of people being prescribed these drugs in the state is concerning and may also be a part of Delaware’s biggest problem with opioids.
Heroin has played a key role in the opioid crisis in Delaware. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cites heroin as the biggest drug threat in the state.2 Because of its proximity to Philadelphia, high-purity heroin continues to be readily available in Delaware, making the drug cheap as well.3 Many people who become hooked on the prescription opioids they are prescribed are turning to heroin for its stronger effects and cheaper price. Eventually, some of these people may also turn to more potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which have been growing in popularity throughout the country.
Speaking of fentanyl, this powerful substance has seen its own development of destruction over the past few years. As death rates continue to rise, dealers have opted to cut their supply of drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin with traces of fentanyl for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, it is done to secretly increase the potency of the drug in question, with the intention of heightening the risk of addiction of their customers. It also is profitable to them while people unknowingly ingest far more potent substances than they may have bargained for.
Opioid Overdose Deaths in Delaware
Delaware’s opioid crisis comes with profound consequences as well. Unfortunately, not everyone will get a drug detox or go to treatment, and the results can be fatal. In 2018 in the United States, almost 70% of all drug overdose deaths involved an opioid, but in Delaware, this number reached 88%. In total, 355 people died from opioids in the state that year.4 Although heroin was a large contributor to these numbers, in more recent years, the number of overdose deaths from synthetic opioids has risen dramatically.5 As these synthetic opioids continue to grow in popularity, these numbers could continue to rise.
Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic
According to medical experts, ending this crisis must involve genuine community involvement, more sufficient coordination of care, and most importantly, more consistent use of less addictive pain control methods. Additionally, resources should be expanded to meet the severity of this epidemic, while the societal stigma surrounding addiction and illicit drug use should be addressed. The latter of these solutions is especially important to us because at the root of any addiction is a human being crying out for help.
Because we are a substance abuse treatment center in Milford, the Delaware opioid crisis is especially concerning, but we want to continue working to make a difference. If you or someone you care about is addicted to opioids of any kind, do not wait until it is too late to get them help. Addiction can seem daunting to handle on one's own, which is why our Delaware drug rehab offers a variety of treatment levels that can comprehensively address all facets of their dependency while teaching them more beneficial ways to get through their days.
- Voices for Non-Opioid Choices - Delaware’s Opioid Crisis
- DEA - The Drug Situation in Delaware
- NDIC - Delaware Drug Threat Assessment
- University of Delaware - Opioid Use Disorder in Delaware: Policies and Programs
- Delaware Health and Social Services - Drug Overdose Deaths
- NIH - Seeking Solutions to the Opioid Crisis