With roughly 115 people dying every day in the United States from an opioid overdose, opioid addiction has never been as big of a problem as it is today.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs. In that class are popular drugs like heroin, fentanyl (a type of synthetic opioid), and pain relievers, like OxyContin®, Vicodin®, codeine, and morphine.

How Did Opioid Addiction Become an Epidemic?  

  • They’re highly addictive.
  • Doctors overprescribe opioid medications.
  • Drugs designed to treat opioid addiction are very underutilized.

It’s also important to remember that at one point, healthcare professionals truly believed opioids were not addictive. After pharmaceutical companies assured medical professionals that opioids were not harmful, doctors began prescribing them at greater rates.

In 2015 alone, more than 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose. It was no very clear that opioid addiction was real and killing people.

Opioid Medications Study

A study published in June of 2018 in the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that another reason why opioid addiction is so high is because people are not being properly treated.

The study learned that despite the fact that drugs like methadone, Suboxone, and Vivitrol have been proven to help those addicted to opioids, they’re severely underused. After observing 18,000 adults in Massachusetts who had gone to an emergency room because of a non fatal opioid drug overdose, only 30 percent received one of the FDA-approved drugs mentioned.

Why Aren’t More Doctors Prescribing Them?

Despite the fact that studies have shown medication-assisted treatment drugs like methadone and buprenorphine can save the lives of people who have overdosed on opioids, they’re severely underutilized. Some theories as to why doctors aren’t prescribing more medication-assisted treatment options are because:

  • They’re expensive and their patients can’t afford them.
  • The patient refers not to take them.
  • Doctors are prescribing other treatment methods.