The war on opioids proves to be a constant battle, and some people are more vulnerable than others. For a span of almost 20 years, from 1999–2018, nearly 450,000 people died. These people died from opioid overdoes and includes both prescription drugs and illicit substances. In 2016, an average of 27 men died per day from a prescription opioid overdose. This has continued to be an epidemic sweeping America.
How Do Prescription Drugs Affect Men?
The fight against drugs is a never-ending battle as people struggle with addiction. For prescription opioids, over 191 million prescriptions were written and handed out to patients in the United States in 2017. Before that, 2016 had 11.5 million Americans misusing their opioid prescriptions. The more common prescription drugs that people misuse are:
People commonly associate these drugs with prescription overdoses. Over 9,978 men overdosed on prescription opioids in 2016. In total, over 17,087 people died that year from overdoses with prescription drugs. As noted earlier, over 27 men died per day due to prescription opioids, but those who did not overdose had to deal with several symptoms that come with misusing prescription drugs.
Side Effects of Prescription Opioids
Misusing prescription opioids can create side effects like tolerance and physical dependence, and together they can form an addiction. Developing tolerance for any substance means that you start taking more to feel an effect. Taking more alcohol or drugs will increase your chance of addiction. Addiction or dependence will make your body reliant on the medication, and a person might start craving the substance. It creates a cycle so that the more you take, the more you need it, and the less the drugs affect a person. Dependance on a drug feeds into itself.
Other Side Effects That Can Effect Everyday Life
Increased sensitivity to pain also may become an issue if you rely on prescription opioids. Opioids, when taken correctly by following your doctor’s instructions, can help relieve pain. However, when you take to much, your sense of pain becomes heightened, and this can cause someone to take more opioids as they try to fix this sensitivity.
Another wave of side effects is something that happens when taking most prescription drugs. Things like constipation, nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth are on most warning labels. Sleepiness and dizziness are also common symptoms. However, if someone continually misuses opioids, these side effects will become more constant and can have adverse long term effects on your health.
Depression is another significant side effect that is important to be aware of, as this affects your mental health. Be mindful of your emotional state, and if you notice you might have depression contact a doctor. Another side effect can be low levels of testosterone. This means that a person taking prescription opioids will have a lower sex drive and might not be as energetic. Prescription opioids can affect people in many ways, and millions of people are at risk of experiencing these symptoms or develop an addiction.
What Happens When Men Use Heroin?
These numbers mean that a large portion of people is susceptible to having a prescription opioid disorder. These prescription drugs are a gateway to more illicit opioids like heroin. Heroin is stronger, scarier, and more dangerous than it’s doctor prescribed relative. Heroin use has increased nearly five times more since 2010. Men are also more likely to use heroin, and their use of this drug has increased sharply within the United States.
More men are also likely to use larger amounts of heroin for more extended periods than women. This means men are also more likely to use an injection method, which puts a lot more strain on the body. Injecting heroin puts people at risk for viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and Hepatitis B. Bacterial infections can also enter the bloodstream, skin, and heart, leading to a lot of other risks.
Heroin proves to be a lot more dangerous than prescription opioids, but both can be highly addictive and lead to death. The main difference is that Heroin is illegal. There is also more risk of an overdose as people frequently use heroin with other drugs or alcohol.
A Solution: Men and MAT(Medication Assisted Treatment)
Men continue to be at high risk for opioid addiction. They need to know their options for dealing with their misuse of prescription or illegal drugs. The best treatment out there is Medication Assisted Treatment (also known as MAT). This is a program that recovery centers can provide to help anyone fight addiction. This might be an ideal solution for men if they have an addiction to opioids, but this can also be applied to alcohol and other prescription drugs.
What is MAT? This is a treatment plan that uses medication, counseling, and therapies to help fight substance abuse disorder. The medicines used to help withdrawal symptoms also curb cravings with a more controlled system. This is a smoother alternative to the cold turkey method.
Withdrawal from opioids can be very painful and stressful. The MAT uses medications to help fight those symptoms; it gradually trains the body to no longer depend on the addiction drug. This treatment proved to be less of a shock on a patient’s body and better detox. The medications prevent cravings, but they also do not allow the patient to get high or drunk to help their body adjust.
Where Can You Find MAT?
Going to your local recovery center is the best place to start! If you are in the Medford area, Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford offers Medication Assisted Treatment specializing in opioid and heroin treatment. For their treatment, they usually use Vivitrol, Naltrexone, and Methadone. Pinelands Recovery Center strives to make its detox process as comfortable as possible and wants to help the patient create a long-lasting recovery foundation. The path to success for their patients is to help them beat addiction and learn how to prevent it in the future. If you find that someone in your life needs help feel free to reach out to Pinelands Medical Center of Medford. Their professional staff can help find the best treatment plan for you.