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LA Dangerously Depends on Opioids

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Louisiana ranks as the fifth highest prescriber of painkillers.

Opioids are a class of drugs derived from opium that help to relieve pain.

Some of the most well known opioids are morphine and heroin.

They are also sold under brands like Vicodin® and OxyContin.

According to CDC reports, there were 98.1 opioid prescriptions per 100 people in Louisiana alone.

Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee led the opioid epidemic in ranking of prescriptions.

The prescription rate has gone down by 11 percent from 2007 to 2016.

However, the Louisiana Department of Health has reported 155 deaths with opioids in the year 2012.

The number has since increased to 305 in 2016.

Several sets of unregulated laws in the previous decade, along with the modern social norms, have made it somewhat easier for people to fall victim to opioid abuse and addictions.

The current healthcare system also makes it easier for people to buy pills rather than using alternative therapy systems.

Even more surprising is the fact that almost 50 percent of the deaths caused by opioid abuse were from prescription opioids.

“Sometimes in cases of high volume pharmacies like Walgreens or Walmart, your pharmacist might mistakenly give you incorrect dosage of pills because of unclear doctor’s prescription,” Susan Egbert, a third year pharmacy student, said.

Opioids can have all sorts of health problems ranging from addiction to death.

Mixing alcohol and opioids leads to conditions like hypoventilation.

The body cannot perform regular respiratory gas exchange.

This causes carbon dioxide toxicity which can be fatal.

Medications like Tylenol that contain opioids can also lead to liver toxicity over time.

“Addiction is a disease and I think doctors should be more careful with what they prescribe to patients and try holistic methods of healing instead of pain meds,” Lakaron McGee, a first year pharmacy student, said.

Several studies have concluded that some people are more prone to becoming drug addicts because of their genetics.

A child of a drug abuser is likely to get easily addicted to drugs, if exposed to them.

In recent years, the opioid crisis has been accepted as an epidemic, and many experts have tried different mechanisms to reduce this problem.

The recent Medicaid policies limit the patients to a strict 15-day prescription limit along with a limit of 120 mg of morphine or equivalent per day.

“We have to properly go through the patients’ records to ensure controlled medication before sending them off with any pills,” Egbert added.

Louisiana is now funding for more naloxone, a medication that is used to wear off the effects of an opioid in case of intoxication.

This has been proven to be very helpful in the hands of first responders who report to calls of opioid overdose.

Several agencies have also contributed by spreading awareness in this matter by providing education to locals.

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The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe
LA Dangerously Depends on Opioids