Opiates are a group of drugs that manage pain by depressing the central nervous system (CNS). There are two different kinds of opiates: natural and synthetic. Natural opiates come from the dried “milk” of the poppy plant and include opium, morphine and codeine. Heroin, for example, is made from the sap-like opium of poppy plants. Once cultivated, the opium resin is refined to make morphine, then transformed into different forms of heroin. Synthetic opiates, on the other hand, are man-made in a laboratory and are most often used to treat chronic or severe pain. Examples of synthetic opiates include Dilaudid, Demerol, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Fentanyl and Methadone.
Whether natural or synthetic, opiate substances are highly “addictive”. Special proteins known as opioid receptors are found in certain areas of the human body. Those areas include the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. When opiate substances are introduced to the body, they attach to opioid receptors. Once attached, opiates prevent your brain from receiving messages that indicate the presence of pain.
Approximately two decades ago, adequate pain relief became a central issue. The resulting patient’s rights movement was meant to ensure the pain of each and every American patient was adequately treated. While this movement help many folks who suffered daily with severe and unremitting pain, unfortunately, thousands of those patients became opiate addicts in the process.
Opioid-related deaths increased 35 percent over the previous year, according to the report released Wednesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Opioids were identified as either the cause of death or were present in the decedent's system in 5,725 cases. That's 1,483 more than 2015.
Through analysis and research, evidence was uncovered that the pharmaceutical industry played a key role in causing the opioid epidemic through its alleged deceptive marketing of highly addictive prescription painkillers to treat common chronic pain conditions, state attorneys general, local governments and other public entities nationwide have championed investigations and litigation to seek accountability and remedies. The U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee also conducted its own investigation and released a report in February 2018 that stated it had found evidence suggesting the pharmaceutical industry paid millions of dollars to several third party patient advocacy groups in order to encourage “the advancement of opioids-friendly messaging.”
A recent study ( 2/13/18) by the Research Group Altarum revealed the economic toll of opioid crisis in U.S. exceeded $1 Trillion since 2001. An additional $500 billion is estimated through 2020 if current conditions persist