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The Opioid Image: What You Need to Know

More than 42,000 people died of an opioid overdose in 2016. Today, more than 115 people on average die per day as the result of their addiction to opioids; That means that every 12.5 minutes someone is losing their life to an opioid addiction. It’s that simple, the numbers are black and white… there is an opioid epidemic sweeping our nation. That’s why Jax Spine & Pain Centers believes education is key when it comes to helping our patients relieve pain. In fact, we’ve never used the words “cure” or “pain-free,” because the practice of medicine has always been done under the guise that each patient responds differently and we are not here to set unrealistic expectations.

Did you know recent studies have shown that more than a third of the population taking a ‘pain killer’ doesn’t know they are taking an “opioid?”

Opioids are drugs formulated to replicate the pain reducing properties of opium. They include both legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone prescribed by doctors for acute or chronic pain, as well as illegal drugs like heroin or illicitly made fentanyl. The word “opioid” is derived from the word “opium.”

The number of opioid prescriptions dispensed by doctors steadily increased from 112 million prescriptions in 1992 to a peak of 282 million in 2012, according to the market research firm IMS Health. The number of prescriptions dispensed has since declined, falling to 236 million in 2016.

The Opioid Breakdown: America’s Got a Problem
Opioids bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, disrupting pain signals. They also activate the reward areas of the brain by releasing the hormone dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria or a “high,” according to Dr. Michael Hanes of Jax Spine & Pain Centers.

Opioids such as morphine and codeine are naturally derived from opium poppy plants more commonly grown in Asia, Central America and South America. Heroin is an illegal drug synthesized from morphine. Hydrocodone and oxycodone are semi-synthetic opioids, manufactured in labs with natural and synthetic ingredients. Between 2007 and 2016, the most widely prescribed opioid was hydrocodone (Vicodin). In 2016, 6.2 billion hydrocodone pills were distributed nationwide. The second most prevalent opioid was oxycodone (Percocet). In 2016, 5 billion oxycodone tablets were distributed in the United States.

The International Narcotics Control Board reported that in 2015, Americans represented about 99.7% of the world’s hydrocodone consumption. Fentanyl is a fully synthetic opioid, originally developed as a powerful anesthetic for surgery. It is also administered to alleviate severe pain associated with terminal illnesses like cancer. The drug is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Just a small dose can be deadly. Illicitly produced fentanyl has been a driving factor in the number of overdose deaths in recent years. Methadone is another fully synthetic opioid. It is commonly dispensed to recovering heroin addicts to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal.

The Opioid Addiction: What’s Being Done
“Opioid use disorder is the clinical term for opioid addiction or abuse,” says Dr. Hanes. People who become dependent on opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the pills. Dependence is often coupled with tolerance, meaning that opioid users need to take increasingly larger doses of the medication for the same effect. About 11.5 million Americans age 12 and older misused prescription pain medicine in 2016, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

About 948,000 or 0.3% of the US population age 12 and up used heroin in 2016. People who become dependent on pain pills may switch to heroin because it is less expensive than prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that half of young people who inject heroin turned to the street drug after abusing prescription painkillers, also that three in four new heroin users start out using prescription drugs. The number of overdose deaths related to heroin increased 533% between 2002 and 2016, from an estimated 2,089 in 2002 to 13,219 in 2016. A drug called naloxone, available as an injection or a nasal spray, is used as a treatment for overdoses. It blocks or reverses the effects of opioids and is often carried by first responders.

“The Opioid Treatment:” Who’s Paying For It?”
In 2013, the cost of medical care and substance abuse treatment for opioid addiction and overdose was an estimated $78.5 billion, according to a report in the journal Medical Care. The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, allocated $1 billion over two years in opioid crisis grants to states, providing funding for expanded treatment and prevention programs. In April 2017, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price announced the distribution of the first round of $485 million in grants to all 50 states and US territories. In August 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the launch of an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit within the Department of Justice.

The unit’s mission is to prosecute individuals who commit opioid-related health care fraud. The DOJ is also appointing US attorneys who will specialize in opioid health care fraud cases as part of a three-year pilot program in 12 jurisdictions nationwide. State legislatures are also introducing more measures to regulate pain clinics while most recently passed legislation limits the quantity of opioids doctors can dispense.

“The Opioid Crisis: Where Does That Leave You?
At Jax Spine & Pain Centers we treat each patient on a case-by-case basis. Our doctors specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of various pain disorders. At the initial office consultation patients are evaluated and treatment options are discussed. Some of the procedures our physicians perform for the diagnosis and/or treatment of pain include, but are not limited to the services listed at here at jaxspine.com.

Now serving three locations, Jax Spine & Pain Centers is expanding to provide state-of-the-art care and clinically proven solutions for acute or chronic pain relief. Our focus remains committed to individual custom care plans for our patients to vastly improve their quality of life. We are proud to be *Veteran’s Choice Approved and have successfully offered treatment solutions helping thousands find relief and get moving again since 1999.

Jax Spine & Pain Centers is now accepting new patients. We offer same day appointments. Call 904.257.0060 today to schedule an appointment. You may also fill out the form on our homepage and one of our care specialists will contact you within 24-hours to schedule an appointment.

 

 

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