Reports on death totals from accidental overdose due to opiate use have shocked physicians worldwide, leading to discussion on other ways chronic pain can be controlled. While opiate abuse is a common, much publicized issue among substance abusers, the alarming discoveries are in the sheer number of people affected by overdose. It was reported that an estimated 27,500 individuals died in 2007 from unintentional drug overdose, with a large majority of these overdoses due to opiate abuse.
While it is certainly a shock to learn of the numbers of people losing their lives due to accidental overdose, what is truly surprising is that there were more accidental overdose deaths reported from prescription opiate abuse than for heroin and cocaine combined. This helps to put the danger of abusing these types of medications into better perspective.
It is not necessarily that the people falling victim to accidental overdose exhibit symptoms of opiate abuse; it is highly likely that many of these individuals are not receiving adequate education about the dangers of these substances, as well as information about proper use. Many of these people are also on medications for depression, anxiety, or sleeping disorders. The use of sleep aids, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants that are commonly prescribed for these issues are often used in combination with opiates, and are generally prescribed by different physicians. This can lead to a lack of awareness on the part of the physician about the combination of medications being used, therefore resulting in possibly dangerous drug interactions. Many of these substances can cause opiates to become more effective, especially those with sedative-like qualities. Often, by the time a person realizes the danger of using multiple types of medications, it is too late.
Physicians are now focusing more heavily on managing pain in other ways. Non-narcotic medications, as well as non-drug focused therapies like psychotherapy, physical therapy, and exercise are all at the forefront of ways physicians are attempting to manage chronic pain without resorting to powerful opiate medications.
If you are managing an opiate abuse problem, or suspect that someone close to you may be struggling with addiction, contact the staff at Vista Taos Renewal Center, located just north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to learn about the programs available to assist with a holistic addiction recovery.