There are many factors that play into developing an addiction. The chemical properties of a drug make up only one piece of the puzzle, but it is a piece that cannot be ignored. The human body easily becomes physically dependent on opioids in all of their current formulations. Even people who do not develop an addiction will experience a painful withdrawal syndrome if they have been taking opioids for an extended period of time. Addiction and opioids have always gone hand in hand. As more potent versions of the drug have made their way to pharmacies, more people have become addicted and more people have died.
The predisposition of opioids to being misused has been well documented over the last several thousand years. Opium, from which morphine is synthesized, was used in 1500 BCE and possibly as far back as 4200 BCE. Morphine was purified from opium in 1805 and ever since the hypodermic syringe was invented in 1853, opioids have become an increasingly deadly and widespread addiction. If we've known about these issues for so long, how did we let the problem get so bad?
The percentage of worldwide opioid consumption that occurs in North America (USA and Canada).2 80 percent of all opioids are used in the USA.3
Deaths caused by synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, have jumped a shocking 72.2 percent between 2014 and 2015.5
When I came to, I was pounding on the door and ringing the bell even though it was obvious my roommates weren’t home. I slid to the floor. My knee brace was digging into the back of my leg; as I readjusted it, my leg throbbed painfully. I injured myself earlier that week and had the brilliant idea to go out drinking, without crutches. I couldn’t remember getting home and had no idea what time it was. I was sitting on the dirty carpet of the apartment entrance with my legs sprawled out. I searched for my keys over and over again, mainly because I kept forgetting if I had already looked for them. I frantically looked for my wallet or phone but they were gone. I didn’t even have my coat.
I couldn’t remember anything after my first shot at the bar. Before that I had a couple drinks at a friend’s house, but the rest of the night was lost to me. It wasn’t the first time I drank so much that I couldn’t remember what happened, but it was the first time I woke up outside my front door. I forced myself off the floor and went to look for help. I hobbled around the city looking so distraught and haggard that a homeless woman asked me if I needed help.