For many reasons opioid use disorder is often a serious condition:
– It is associated with significant physical, psychological, and social consequences.
– Unfortunately, it also leads to a LOT of deaths. The majority of deaths related to substance use disorders are due to opioid use disorder. In the USA, over 70% of the deaths due to overdoses are due to an overdose involving an opioid (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Nearly half a million people died over 10 years (1999 to 2019) from overdoses involving an opioid (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
– In the United States, we in the midst of an “opioid epidemic” or “opioid crisis”. The terms “epidemic” and “crisis” are not exaggerations (Epstein et al., 2018). There has been a sharp increase in opioid use disorder and opioid-related deaths starting in the 1990s and coming in “waves” (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
– Experts say that much of the later increase in opioid overdoses was probably due to the “lacing” of heroin with fentanyl or fentanyl analogs (Epstein et al., 2018).
Is there hope?
Yes, it is true that opioid use disorder is often a chronic condition in which these persons may stop using opioids for some time but a large proportion of them are at a high risk of relapse.
But, please don’t get discouraged. With proper treatment, sustained long-term remission IS possible (Bruneau et al., 2018).
What can be done?
A group of addiction experts said it really well: “Research on opioid addiction leaves little doubt about what works. Failing to provide it is indefensible” (Epstein et al., 2018)
For articles on this website related to opioid use disorder, please see the links below.
Bruneau J, Ahamad K, Goyer MÈ, Poulin G, Selby P, Fischer B, Wild TC, Wood E; CIHR Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse. Management of opioid use disorders: a national clinical practice guideline. CMAJ. 2018 Mar 5;190(9):E247-E257. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.170958. PubMed PMID: 29507156; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5837873.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose: Understanding the epidemic. Last accessed June 26, 2021.
Epstein DH, Heilig M, Shaham Y. Science-Based Actions Can Help Address the Opioid Crisis. Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2018 Nov;39(11):911-916. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2018.06.002. PMID: 30343726.
Copyright © 2021, Simple and Practical Medical Education, LLC. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without express written permission.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is provided as general education for medical professionals. It is not intended or recommended for patients or other laypersons or as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Patients must always consult a qualified health care professional regarding their diagnosis and treatment. Healthcare professionals should always check this website for the most recently updated information.