By now, you have heard about the opioid epidemic happening in this country. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, in the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. In 2017 HHS declared a public health emergency and announced a 5-Point Strategy To Combat the Opioid Crisis. While this is a devastating epidemic, one epidemic people tend to overlook is the alcohol epidemic. The alcohol related death vs opioid related death is staggering and growing.
Alcohol Related Death
Alcohol is so widely available and socially acceptable. However, it is one of the deadliest substances to become addicted to. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying alcohol in moderation, drinking alcohol on the weekends to relax can quickly become a full-blown addiction.
Some of the side effects of drinking alcohol include:
- Blackout or memory lapse
- Dizziness and shakiness
- Sweating and flushed skin
- Compulsive or erratic behavior
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Blurry vision
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).
How Alcohol Related Death Happens
There are many reasons alcohol could be the cause of death for someone, directly or indirectly. Some of these include:
- Alcohol poisoning. According to MayoClinic, alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex and potentially lead to a coma and death.
- Liver disease. The liver is responsible for metabolizing and filtering out the toxins of alcohol. When someone is suffering from alcohol addiction, their liver works in overdrive constantly. This will cause issues such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis, both of which are deadly.
- Heart disease. Alcohol increases blood pressure and makes the heart work faster and harder than it normally should. This can lead to issues such as heart attacks, heart disease, and heart failure – all of which are deadly.
- Alcohol-related accidents. This can include driving accidents, injury or other types of accidents that go awry due to drinking.
Opioid Related Death
While opioids can be a helpful tool for people going through chronic pain or recovery after a surgery or major injury, opioid use can turn into a deadly addiction rather quickly when not monitored by a medical professional. The more you take opioids, the more is required to be able to get you high. This tolerance-building is what causes an eventual addiction, which can lead to overdose and death. Opioids can include prescription painkillers, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or street drugs such as heroin.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed 63,632 Americans in 2016. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths (66%) involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Overdose deaths increased in all categories of drugs examined for men and women, people ages 15 and older, all races and ethnicities, and across all levels of urbanization.
How Opioid Related Death Happens
When someone uses opioids, the drugs bind to the receptors and essentially sedates the brain. This is what causes the relaxing euphoric feeling, and is also what causes people to feel less pain when needed. However, when too much is taken, the brain can become so sedated and depressed that all functions slow to a crawl. Breathing and heart rate become depressed, causing people to essentially choke to death. The only way to survive an opioid overdose is to be given an antidote, such as Naloxone, to stop the opioids from binding to the receptors.
About Pinelands Recovery Center
Alcohol addiction and opioid addiction can both cause long-lasting damaging effects to the body, and they are also both extremely deadly. The good news about these conditions is that they are both treatable. Even if you have experienced a near-overdose, you can go on to live a healthy, happy life in recovery.
Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.
We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.
We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com