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Cafe Discussion to focus on opioid and heroin addiction crisis

By Staff | Oct 28, 2016

On Nov. 1, the Cafe Society will discuss West Virginia’s opioid and heroin addiction crisis. Cafe Society discussions are part of the Lifelong Learning Program and are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the SU Student Center.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014, West Virginia had the highest per capita rate of lethal overdoses in the United States. That year, 627 West Virginians died from drug overdoses. From 1999 to 2014, 165,000 Americans died from opioid overdose.

Opioids are highly addictive, non-synthetic narcotics that are synthesized from the poppy plant. They are prescribed to relieve pain by reducing the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain. Opioids interact with the opioids receptors on the nerve cells within the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and pain relief. Opioids can be smoked, intravenously injected or taken in pill form. Heroin is an illegal opioid. Legal opioids include: oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, Fentanyl and Tramadol.

In 2012, healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication–enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of opioids. Since 1999, sales of prescription opioids have quadrupled. Sixty-six percent of opioid addictions start with pills provided by family members and friends.

In 2014, 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids. Approximately 25 percent (467,000) were 12-17 year olds. 168,000 kids between ages 12-17 were addicted to opioids: 18,000 were addicted to heroin.

Women are more likely to have chronic pain and be prescribed pain relievers. They are typically given higher doses, use them for longer periods of time, and can become dependent quicker than men. Between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died of prescription reliever overdose. Heroin overdose deaths tripled from 2010 to 2013.

According to the CDC, people who are addicted to: alcohol are 2x, marijuana are 3x, cocaine are 15x and opioid pain killers are 40x more likely to become addicted to heroin.

The group plans to discuss the signs of opioid abuse and overdose, the emergent treatment of overdoses by first responders and health care providers, focus of prevention on adolescents and at-risk adults, availability of inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient drug treatment and counseling programs, the state and federal efforts to educate medical students and physicians regarding prescribing opioids and state prescription monitoring programs.