The federal agency reports that the rates of opioid analgesic misuse and overdose death are highest among men, persons aged 20 to 64, non-Hispanic whites, and poor and rural populations. The trend comes at the same time that practitioners, in an attempt to treat patient pain better, have greatly increased their rate of prescribing opioids, according to the CDC.
Jeannette Tolson, executive director of Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego, said while her organization does not survey those seeking help with substance abuse issues on the type of addiction they have, it is clear that more people are reaching out for services because they have become ensnared in the prescription drug epidemic.
One approach, she said, is to help them deal with the root cause of their pain by referring them to such specialists as chiropractors and acupuncturists. In some cases, she said,”They will find they don’t need their painkillers. This is a health care problem, and we need to be supportive of people who are trying to get better.”
The CDC said prescription painkillers work by binding receptors in the brain to decrease the perception of pain. The drugs create a feeling of euphoria, and in some people they lead to addiction. They also result in sedation and slow down a person’s breathing. When larger doses are taken, breathing can slow down so much that it stops, resulting in death.
Julia Dostal, executive director for LEAF Council on Alcoholism/Addictions in Oneonta, said some people become dependent on painkillers because the prescribed drugs have the aura that they less risky than outlawed substances.
“When people perceive them as less risky, they are more likely to abuse them,” Dostal said. “They see it as medicine, so therefore, to them, it doesn’t have the risk and they think they can use them above and beyond what’s written on the prescription.”