Plagued by a reported opioid crisis, the U.S. has released national statistics on drug-related deaths, revealing staggering results that reflect the country’s problems.
In the last year alone, the U.S reports a death toll of 64,000 for people who suffered fatal overdoses.
Here in the U.K., the Office for National Statistics puts the figure for deaths involving substance abuse at 952, which is a significant increase from 579 just five years ago. Irrelevant of whether our death-rates are nowhere near as bad as the U.S. or not, the issue is that the U.K. could be headed in a similar direction to the U.S. when it comes to medicinal drug overuse and problems, and this cannot be ignored.
Increasing use of opioids and increasing risks
The use of synthetic opioids has increased massively. One of the main ones used, Fentanyl, has reportedly contributed to death toll statistics in a big way. In just three years the death count reportedly rose from 3,000 to over 20,000.
Fentanyl is an opioid widely used for pain relief. The drug is said to be incredibly powerful with scientific research noting that it’s 100-times more potent than morphine. Some variations of the drug are reportedly designed to “mimic the psychological effects of the original drug, may be as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine.”
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (ODC) is aware of the potential dangers such powerful drugs possess. Chief of the Laboratory and Scientific Section of the UN ODC, Justice Tettey, said:
“Fentanyl is a good medicine, but a bad drug. It has excellent pain relieving properties, but is liable to abuse and can rapidly lead to dependency.”
Fentanyl deaths double
For drugs like Fentanyl, careful measuring and monitoring can render the opioid as effective as an anaesthetic. However, even a slight overuse or overdose can be extremely dangerous and even fatal for a user.
Deaths involving Fentanyl reportedly doubled period from 2015 to 2016.
Warnings to doctors
Research experts are warning that doctors are reportedly too lenient and are giving out repeat prescriptions too easily without checking for real and effective alternatives, or the possibility of a problem developing for the patient. There is also criticism for the lack of support afforded to addicts as well, and the worry we all face is whether we here in the U.K. are on the verge of a prescription drug epidemic as well…
The explosion of widespread opioid addiction can be a huge burden for the state as it can divert funding for having to deal with overdoses and rehabilitation for patients.
Prescription drugs and their effects must be clearly identified so doctors can better prescribe them. GP’s must also provide patients with clear instructions and advise on how to take prescription medication safely, as well as providing warnings of the risks of overuse, and offering alternatives.
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