Addicted to heroin or opioids? Help is available

(BPT) - How large is the opioid/heroin problem in the United States? It's bigger than you think. Research shows 1.9 million people age 12 and older have a disorder involving prescription pain relievers, and an additional 586,000 have a disorder involving heroin. These statistics, from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), paint a bleak picture of the drug problem in this country. And the problem seems even more grave when you realize that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

But what is the situation like in Indiana?

Unfortunately, the Hoosier State's struggles with opioids and heroin mirror the rest of the country. Research from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation find that Indiana is one of 37 states where drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death. The data further shows that drug overdoses amount for 16 deaths per 100,000 people, ranking Indiana as the state with the 15th highest rate of drug overdoses in the nation.

A Sharp Increase in Indiana Drug Overdoses

The new statistics represent a dramatic increase in the drug epidemic for the state. From 2007-2009, Indiana ranked 20th in the nation in drug overdose rates, averaging 13 deaths per 100,000 people. And while the rate in Indiana has not climbed as quickly as it has in other states, the fact that drug overdose deaths are increasing at all is cause for concern.

Across the nation, the research found that drug overdose deaths have doubled over the last 14 years.

Finding Help for Addiction in Indiana

Tricia Hegan, Executive Director of South Bend-based Choices Recovery, sees families deal with opioid and heroin addiction every single day. "So many people just don't know where to turn," she says. "They don't recognize the problem is as big as it is until it's too late. They just keep hoping their loved one can pull out of it on their own and that doesn't happen. Opioid addiction is a powerful thing and people who have an addiction need our total support immediately."

While withdrawal for an opioid addiction is difficult, Hegan is quick to point out that the withdrawal itself is not life-threatening, as can be the case with alcohol withdrawal. While going through withdrawal, it is common for the person to feel anxiety, irritability, sweating, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting or cramping. These symptoms may last up to one month. And patients can increase their chance of success by enrolling in a professional center that utilizes a mix of treatment and therapy.

"We urge people to push their loved ones into treatment as soon as they see there is a problem," Hegan says. "We don't want to see another needless death due to drug overdose in the state of Indiana."

If you're concerned a loved one may be addicted to heroin or opioids and you want to learn more about how you can help them, visit crehab.org.


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