The drug epidemic in our country does not just include opiates. It includes all drugs. The drug problem in America is massive. Unfortunately, most of the drugs that cause serious problems do not get the attention they desperately need. There are people dying. Leaving children without parents and parents without children. Families are being torn apart. One of the biggest problems in our country needs to stop going unnoticed.
The opiate epidemic took over in the 1990s. Around 2010, heroin exploded because the pills were no longer as available as they once were. Now, we are dealing with synthetic opiates like fentanyl. No matter what year or which opiate the amount of deaths and the rise of addictions demands attention. It is not just opiates, however.
Methamphetamine is quietly taking over as the next epidemic. Across the country, overdose deaths involving meth more than quadrupled from 2011 to 2017, according to Kaiser Health News. Hospitalizations related to meth have jumped by about 245% from 2008 to 2015. From the West Coast to the East Coast, meth is becoming a bigger problem than many people realize. Law enforcement in the West say meth has become one of their biggest problems.
Other prescription medications are another topic that has taken a backseat to the opiate epidemic. Benzodiazepine, or benzos, have played a silent part in most overdoses and fatal overdoses. Benzos include Xanax, Librium, Valium and Ativan. Benzos taken in toxic doses without other substances present rarely cause an overdose. More than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from different types of anxiety. It is the most common mental illness in America. Types of anxiety include:
- Agoraphobia also known as social anxiety
- Panic Disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Body Dysmorphia, like Anorexia and Bulimia
One problem, because of substance abuse, prescription medications have fueled addictions just as much as street drugs- if not more. However, some people that truly need these medications are not receiving them because of the new laws and regulations put in place. Antidepressant medications, such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, are also prescribed to treat anxiety, as they are the “first line of treatment for anxiety disorders,” said Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. Depending on the patient’s needs and symptoms benzodiazepines may be what they need. Although, addiction can affect anyone. With supervision of a medical professional, some people that suffer from extreme anxiety may benefit from these drugs. However, they are extremely addictive if misused.
How Dangerous These Drugs Are
The withdrawal from these three specific drugs truly need to be medically supervised. The withdrawal symptoms from these drugs are not only physical, but they are mental as well. Meth, for example, while having little physical withdrawal symptoms the mental withdrawal is torture. Symptoms include paranoia, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and more. The withdrawal from opiates is a very painful experience. People experiencing withdrawal symptoms should never be alone.
Benzodiazepine taken in high doses can make a person feel invincible. They almost put some people into a zombie-like state. When benzos are mixed with other substances, like alcohol, it will cause the person to black out. That concoction can make people do things that they would never normally do. There have been cases of people waking up in other people’s houses or even in jail with no recollection of how they got there. After extended use, benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can actually be deadly. The only other substance withdrawal that can be fatal is alcohol. Benzos change the brain chemically differently than other drugs so the withdrawal is different, as well. Benzo withdrawal is deadly because the symptoms include seizures, auditory and visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, convulsions, and certain psychotic symptoms.
How We Can Help
Reaching out and talking to people you love, care about, or haven’t talked to in a while is a great way to gauge how they are doing. Ask them how they are feeling or if they doing well. If you know someone that suffers from severe anxiety or severe pain and is on medication- stay in touch with them. If it is someone close to you, offer to go to the doctor’s office with them. Addiction is an extremely lonely disease. Having people that care about you around or having someone you can talk to may help. We cannot afford to keep losing loved ones to addiction and substance abuse. It is a preventable death. Whether you are an addict or someone you love is dealing with an addiction it is a difficult situation. But, no one is ever a lost cause. We do not need to lose more lives to addiction to start helping. We can help now.
Getting Help for Addiction
Addiction on drugs or alcohol can be a devastating, life-long condition that can lead to a myriad of health, emotional, and social problems. If you or someone you know is suffering, we urge you to contact us today to learn about our treatment programs.
We are a specialized treatment facility that offers a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to addiction. We are dedicated to helping those who need it most recover from substance abuse and reclaim the healthy lives they deserve!