Long before the COVID-19 pandemic ripped its way through communities worldwide,
there was another hidden killer lurking in the shadows of New Hampshire cities far and wide—the opioid crisis in America.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 and older misused opioids that year. Further, according to the CDC, more than 800,000 have died from a drug overdose since 1999—70% involved an opioid
These numbers are highly alarming and ones that should not be taken lightly.
So how does opioid addiction happen anyway? Are these street drug users from bad parts of town?
While this may be true in some cases, it’s absolutely false. Opioid addiction can happen to anyone if they aren’t careful. Something as simple as taking prescribed medication in a way other than directed can easily lead to more dangerous practices, such as crushing pills to be snorted. The issue is that people tend to develop a natural tolerance for the drugs over time. When this happens, the recommended advice from the Mayo Clinic is to immediately explain this to a doctor, who should be able to help find better solutions, such as switching the drug for another or even weaning a person off the opioids completely for some time, in order to reset their tolerance level.
The only issue with this is pain tolerance. The reason anyone takes the opioids in the first place is to deal with the pain of various levels, sometimes excruciating. This is where it always starts—wanting to numb the pain. No one wants to live in pain; therefore, it’s understandable that a person might seek relief in a risky way.
The scenario for opioid addiction in New Hampshire usually goes like this:
Cliff has been experiencing terrible back pain, and finally gets scheduled for surgery. The surgery goes very well, but post-op, Cliff is in more pain than he was prior to the surgery. The doctor prescribes him oxycodone, and now Cliff is feeling a lot of relief. Some time goes by, and the pain is coming back even though he continues to take the same amount of medication. On his own, Cliff decides to up his dose. He’s now taking double the amount he used to take, and it starts to work for him, but it takes a long time to kick in. What to do?
Cliff follows the natural path in these types of cases and starts to crush and snort the Oxy, giving him instant relief and an added high. This becomes commonplace as it’s much easier to feel great than be in pain. The problem, however, is that Cliff’s prescription is about to end, and the doctor will not refill it.
Cliff reaches out to a friend he knows who has connections and starts to purchase the oxycodone by the pill, for an incredible markup that costs him an arm and a leg. After some time, he realizes he can’t keep up with the prices. This is when his dealer offers him a solution: heroin. It’s a fraction of the cost and can provide a world of relief, he’s told.
So, Cliff jumps in with both feet, does the heroin, and instantly becomes an addict. Things around him start falling apart, be it family or friends, and the only foreseeable path is further down the spiral.
The drugmakers and dealers want to make further profits, so they cut the heroin with Fentanyl, one of the most potent opioids in existence, and next thing you know Cliff is back in a hospital bed, having his stomach pumped because luckily someone was there to witness his overdose and the ambulance was able to rush him in. Cliff got lucky, but this may not have been the case. He could have easily ended up as one of the 800,000 deaths.
This is how addiction works. It’s never as clear as, “Today, I will get myself addicted to heroin.” There are multifaceted factors that contribute to all of this.
What should someone do if they feel they have an addiction to opioids in NH?
The first thing one should do is seek help. If someone is having an acute overdose, the use of naxolone, better known as Narcan, is the first thing that should be used to reverse the effects of the narcotic. Beyond that, there is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Callers can be sent free publications and other materials. You can also reach out to us at Sobriety Centers of New Hampshire and we can get you into an Opioid detox program in NH as soon as today.
Once in a detox in NH or an addiction treatment in NH, one should trust the process and allow themselves to receive the proper care they need. After all, there are trained professionals whose mission is to see people like Cliff recover and stay clean long term.
This brings up the tough subject of relapse, which is a part of recovery. Even after someone is clean for a while, they may experience relapse. This is not because they don’t care and aren’t trying, so be gentle with this situation. What it means is that addiction is real and battling it is a lifelong journey. If someone relapses, they should follow the same procedure: Call the helpline, get a referral to treatment, and follow through with it.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has silently flourished—hiding in the shadows and taking many lives. The positive news is that prescriptions for opioids have decreased for the 10th year in a row; however, the negative side is that deaths have increased. Street sales are to blame, as people are turning to dangerous avenues to get their fix.
The opioid crisis in America can surely be beat, with a concentrated effort from the pharmaceutical companies, physicians, treatment centers, and patients themselves being meticulous about how they use the drugs prescribed to them. There is a world out there where Cliff can live a normal, pain-free life, without abusing drugs.
It is important that Detox from many drugs and alcohol be conducted in a medical detox facility.