Addiction, Heroin, and the Opioid Epidemic

It’s very rare to hear the term “opioid” without the word “epidemic” following closely. Also known as the opioid crisis, the opioid epidemic refers to the number of hospitalizations and deaths caused by the use of opioids resulting from illicit drugs and prescription drugs.

What is Opioid?

Opioids are a synthetic version of opium. This means the drug is derived from opium. One of the most common derivatives of opium is Morphine which, for a long time, has been used to relieve pain. However, as technology advanced, various methods came about on how to reduce or increase its strength based on the need.

Methadone was then developed after a morphine shortage while heroin came about due to attempts on making a less addictive drug. However, that would go sideways and it has since been illegal to produce it.

Opioids are today used to relieve pain with some of the common ones available listed below:

  •         Methadone
  •         Tramadol
  •         Oxycodone
  •         Morphine
  •         Heroin
  •         Hydrocodone
  •         Fentanyl
  •         Codeine
  •         Dilaudid
  •         Demerol

Then the Epidemic Fell Upon the Land

The initial intention opioids in the market was to reduce or relieve pain. While it did that, it also presented a new problem. Addiction. Despite manufacturers stating that the newer drugs were less addiction, many patients joined the long list of addicts.

A number of experts say the epidemic started in the late ’90s. The search for new painkillers was on and the manufacturers were behind it. This saw the introduction of semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids in hospitals and pharmacies.

In fact, they pushed the doctors into prescribing the drug to their patients saying that they were less addictive and posed no dangerous side effects. The chain reaction continued and the doctors took up the mantle and they did as requested. They pushed the drug to their patients. The consumers were innocent and a prescription coming from a doctor is considered the gospel truth. Therefore, the rise in consumption kicked off leading to devastating effects on the users.

A research found out that in the U.S. alone, about a staggering 115 deaths since 2014 and this is daily. In addition, it was also found out that a huge number, 80 percent of heroin addicts, has led to addiction thanks to the prescription of opioid painkillers.

Due to the addiction to these drugs, it’s no surprise that about $78.5 billion goes into the purchase of prescription opioids.

The Epidemic that is Opioid Prescriptions

A great number of those who got into addiction started out as opioid addicts after taking a doctor’s prescription. These painkillers are highly addictive and therefore, the human brain is easily lured into addiction making it difficult to function normally after you go for a while without a dose.

After they’re addicted, they are forced to look for the same drugs to relieve their addiction. However, these drugs are expensive and they’re often not readily available. As a result, many turn to more dangerous drugs such as heroin which is highly potent, readily available and cheaper.


A good number of heroin addicts out here aren’t there because they wanted to. They were forced to do it and even worse without their knowledge. In fact, 23 percent of the people who use heroin, end up getting addicted to opioids.


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