Where We’re At With Opioids in 2023: Updates, Risks and Solutions

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Opioid addiction is a still growing public health crisis that has affected millions of people around the world. Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. These drugs work by interacting with the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, and digestive tract. When taken in large doses or over a long period of time, opioids can produce a feeling of euphoria and can be highly addictive.

Risks of Opioid Addiction

The dangers of opioid addiction are numerous and can have serious consequences for both the individual and society as a whole. One of the most significant risks associated with opioid use is the potential for overdose. Opioids can slow down the body’s respiratory system, which can lead to a fatal overdose if too much of the drug is taken. In fact, opioid overdose is a leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with more than 47,000 deaths occurring in 2017 alone.

In addition to the risk of overdose, opioid addiction can also have serious consequences for an individual’s physical and mental health. Long-term use of opioids can lead to physical dependence, which means that the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug and can no longer function normally without it. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as severe pain, nausea, and diarrhea, when the drug is stopped.

Opioid addiction can also have serious psychological effects, including changes in brain chemistry and behavior. Chronic opioid use can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as a loss of motivation and a decline in overall quality of life. It can also lead to social isolation and strained relationships with friends and loved ones.

Risks of Overdose 

One of the most significant risks associated with opioid use is the potential for overdose.

The risks of opioid addiction are not limited to the individual. The opioid epidemic has had a significant impact on society as a whole, with billions of dollars spent on healthcare and law enforcement efforts to address the crisis. The opioid epidemic has also had a significant economic impact, with lost productivity and increased absenteeism costing billions of dollars each year.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of opioid addiction. One of the most significant is the availability of prescription opioids. Many people become addicted to opioids after being prescribed the drugs for a legitimate medical reason, such as after surgery or to manage chronic pain. However, the easy availability of these drugs can lead to abuse, as people may take more of the drug than they are prescribed or take the drug for non-medical reasons.

Lack of Education and Awareness 

Another factor that contributes to the risk of opioid addiction is the lack of education and awareness about the dangers of these drugs. Many people may be unaware of the potential risks and may not understand the addictive nature of opioids. This lack of knowledge can lead to people taking these drugs without fully understanding the potential consequences.

There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of opioid addiction and the negative consequences that it can have. One of the most important is to increase education and awareness about the dangers of these drugs. This can be done through public health campaigns and educational materials that provide accurate information about the risks of opioid use.

Reducing The Risks 

Another way to reduce the risk of opioid addiction is to increase access to treatment and support for people who are struggling with addiction. This can include access to medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone or buprenorphine, as well as counseling and support groups.

Finally, efforts can be made to reduce the availability of prescription opioids and to increase efforts to combat the illegal drug trade. This can include measures such as stricter prescription guidelines and increased law enforcement efforts to disrupt the production and distribution of illegal drugs.

What South Meadows Recovery Has Been Experiencing 

In 2022, we’ve seen an increase in clients struggling with opioid dependency. From prescription pain killers to heroin, this has been a growing concern for our staff and the community along with the increased use of Fentanyl. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an article that accounts for 106,699 drug overdose deaths in 2021 and it’s still unclear if that number continues to rise. We’re seeing a steady flow of client admissions from opioid addiction at SMR. 

Get Help Today 

If you’re in need of help, consider South Meadows Recovery in Austin, TX. We offer a partial hospitalization program, an intensive outpatient program and an outpatient program. Learn more about each program by following the link. 


National Institute on Drug Abuse 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Texas Workforce Commission