Opioid Addiction an Increasing Problem in America
Opioid addiction is a serious problem throughout the country and right here in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Not a week goes by that there isn’t a story in the news about an overdose or other crisis caused by opioid addiction.
What are Opioids? Are My Loved Ones at Risk?
Opioids are medications usually prescribed by doctors, usually for pain relief. They are commonly prescribed for:
- Relief of mild to severe pain, but usually reserved for moderate to severe pain
- Acute pain, including post-surgical pain
- Chronic pain caused by headaches, back pain, and fibromyalgia
Opioids provide immediate relief of pain and are frequently prescribed because of their rapid onset. They are also used in palliative care to help with severe, chronic, and disabling pain that can occur in some terminal conditions, including cancer and degenerative conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Opioids work by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. This reduces the perception of pain and can produce a sense of well-being.
Opioid Addiction Costing Americans $80 Billion
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual economic burden of addiction to prescription opioids in the United States is nearly $80 billion, including loss of productivity, criminal justice costs, health insurance costs, and substance abuse treatment.
For some, opioids can be a successful long-term care strategy, especially for cancer patients. But despite any relief these drugs might provide, opioids are highly addictive and have created a drug problem in the country of historic proportions.
Complications Linked to Opioid Use
Some consider opioids the better option in treating pain because they do not cause the organ toxicity linked to various other pain relief medications.
But opioids are not without severe risks.
Many patients develop a tolerance to their opioid pain killers and require higher and higher doses to achieve the same relief. Tolerance is most common in people using high doses of opioids for extended periods of time.
Physical dependence on opioids is also a problem and causes users to experience unpleasant side effects, including sweating, nausea, and irritability when someone stops using the drug.
Opioids are also addictive and can cause users to seek other even more dangerous illegal drugs when the prescribed drug is no longer available. There is a great deal of evidence that shows addiction to prescription painkillers is directly linked to heroin use.
Why are Drug Companies Responsible for the Opioid Epidemic?
According to the National Institutes of Health, drug companies have “aggressively marketed” their drugs. Their deceptive and fraudulent marketing campaigns led users to believe the drugs were safe and effective for long-term use, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this claim.
Since 1999, there have bene more than 250 million prescriptions issued for opioids in the country – a number equivalent to medicating every single adult in the country around the clock for an entire month.
How Opioid Litigation Can Help
As a result of the ongoing opioid crisis and the drug companies’ accountability, the legal community is taking action in an effort to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for these costs. Lawsuits against the makers of these drugs seek to recover the various costs associated with opioid abuse and the aftermath of an addiction.
So far, multiple drug companies facing lawsuits have settled with plaintiffs after evidence was uncovered proving the companies acted negligently. One drug manufacturer faced more than $600 million in fines and executives pled guilty to misbranding violations. Many had to personally pay multi-million fines.
Our firm has begun helping victims of opioid drug manufacturers and their families. Our goal is to ensure those affected by opioid drugs are compensated for their injuries and pain and suffering caused by the marketing and distribution of these dangerous drugs.
There is no reason why those harmed by these drugs, nor the local and state governments on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, should be struggling to deal with the costs created by the problem. Many municipalities and counties throughout the country are also pursuing legal action related to the drug epidemic.
These lawsuits provide financial and emotional relief to those most affected by opioid addiction. They make it possible to hold drug companies accountable for their role in the epidemic and to provide much-needed support to those in need of recovery and healing.
For more information or to speak to someone about filing a lawsuit related to opioid drug addiction, contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 to learn more.